During a summer 2009 trip to Napa Valley a friend recommended Fontanella Family Winery to me. I stopped by and tasted their wines, which were impressive. You can read about my experience here. So with 2010 almost out it seemed like a good time to taste their current releases and see if I felt as strongly about these as I do the previous vintages. My impressions of them follow. First up is the Fontanella Family Winery 2008 Napa Valley Chardonnay. This wine which is all Chardonnay was produced using fruit from Mt Veeder (50%) and Carneros (50%). It was aged in French oak for 9 months; 30% of the barrels were new. It has a suggested retail price of $30. Note: The 2009 has recently been released; it’s a Mt. Veeder selection and also sells for $30.
The nose of this 2008 Chardonnay shows off orchard fruit, baker’s spices, and light hints of toasty oak. A host of fruit types are on display through the palate. Mango, nectarine, pear, apple and hints of peach are all in strong evidence. In truth it’s a very appealing potpourri of fruit flavors with a prominent vein of spices running through it. The stone fruits in evidence hang on through the lengthy finish along with continued spice such as nutmeg and white pepper. There’s a touch of unctuousness in the finish which is generally quite fresh and vibrant with racy acidity. This wine has terrific complexity and is clearly an example of Chardonnay that is enhanced by judicious use of oak.
Next up is the Fontanella Family Winery 2008 Zinfandel which was produced from fruit sourced in several prime Napa Valley Appellations; Mt Veeder and Oakville are the most prominent. This offering is 100% Zinfandel. Oak aging occurred over 11 months in American barrels. 442 cases of this release were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $36.
Right up front the nose opens with a burst of jam laden fruit. This is underscored by wisps of vanilla and bramble. Both blackberry and raspberry are prominent through the palate which is rich with layer after layer of sweet, appealing berry fruit flavors. Chocolate sauce leads the finish and really lingers right through persistently as the last note echoing on your taste buds. Along with it the fruit flavors and spice notes such as black pepper and a hint of plum pudding spice also join in. This is a Zinfandel that can easily be enjoyed either on its own or with a meal. It’s hefty and hearty but also quite well balanced and proportionate.
Finally we have the Fontanella Family Winery 2007 Mt Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon. 100% of this fruit was sourced on Mt Veeder. 92% is Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% is Merlot. Barrel aging occurred over 20 months in French oak; 83% of the barrels were new. 650 cases of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $50.
Eucalyptus, toast, and vanilla are the first aromas out of the chute. They’re followed immediately by a heady brew of dark leaning berry fruit. As with the Zinfandel this wine is loaded with layers of complexity that simply don’t stop. Most of the flavors lean towards dark fruits; plum, blackberry, boysenberry and quite prominently, black cherry to name a few. Chicory, dusty baker’s chocolate and hints of earth all emerge in the lengthy finish. This wine his firm tannins that yield with some air. If you’re going to drink this Cabernet now, I’d recommend a couple of hours in the decanter for maximum pleasure; however if you have some patience, lay it down for a few years and you’ll be rewarded with an even more beautiful wine.
The wines from Fontanella Family Winery are distinct and elegant. In their price points they represent fine values. The Cabernet Sauvignon in particular is an excellent deal. Terrific Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon isn’t cheap. With that in mind; this offering is actually a bit of a bargain. If you haven't had a chance to try the wines from Fontanella Family Winery yet, now is as good a time as any. Highly recommended.