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Inspired by the great wines of Right Bank Bordeaux, Virage sources from cooler corners of Napa Valley, revealing the depth, complexity, rich structure and smooth texture of optimally-ripened cabernet franc and merlot.

Bordeaux Tradition
What do we mean by "blended in Right Bank Bordeaux Tradition"? Many Napa Valley wines are produced from grape varieties originally brought to California from Bordeaux, France, a place where red wines are (with few exceptions) blended from up to five different but closely-related varietals. The defined viticultural region of Bordeaux is planted to the grapes long-proven to thrive there and best represented this special region: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. At a Bordeaux estate, varietal plantings are driven by specific site conditions--soils and climate--matched to the grape varieties known to achieve, in those conditions, optimal ripeness and character expression in the finished wines. The vigneron (winemaker) then blends the resulting wines each vintage for the perfect balance of textures, acids, alcohol, flavors, etc. A fine art in itself, the art of blending. Each wine from a Bordeaux estate expresses that unique area, that unique growing year, blended by a unique individual. No wonder people start collecting...

Right Bank
Like Paris, Bordeaux is divided by the river running through it, and the character of each river "bank" is slightly different. The character of the wines included. And their varietal make-up. To the South, on the river's left bank, cabernet sauvignon generally dominates the blends. On the right bank, the northernmost chateaux produce blends rich in merlot and cabernet franc, grown on the gravelly terraces and limestone plateau. Top right bank blends are highly regarded for their finesse, complexity and age-ability. Celebrated properties include Chateau Cheval Blanc in St. Emilion (planted to cabernet franc and merlot), and Petrus in Pomerol, a top Bordeaux wine produced solely from merlot (a unique property in this regard).

Classic Style - Grown in the Vineyard
To create our "blend in the Right Bank tradition," we began working with growers of cabernet franc and merlot in the northeastern corner of Napa Carneros at Beau Terroir and Hyde Vineyards. Tucked into the tail end of the Mayacamas range, dividing Sonoma Valley and Napa Valley, this hilly corner enjoys cooling afternoon breezes flowing north from the San Pablo Bay funneled through the nooks and min-valleys within the foothills, yet is well-sheltered from the colder ocean winds flowing onshore and through the "Petaluma Gap" to the west. Those fierce winds blast the lower unprotected areas of Carneros, keeping chardonnay and pinot noir nice and cool and crisp for sparkling wine production. In this protected pocket, ripening grapes enjoy not only lower afternoon temperatures compared to "upvalley" appellations, but also warmer nights from close proximity to San Pablo Bay, just a few miles to the south. Remember that on hot days, sugars accumulate rapidly and acids drop in the berries. To our way of thinking, these more temperate sites provide ideal conditions for harvesting at optimal ripeness, to achieve full depth of flavor at lower sugar levels,
maintaining natural acidity that gives wine its sense of life on the palate. A long, slow maturation builds character! Complex, supple wines with layered flavors and a mouth-watering finish. We love the generous aromatics of ripe cabernet franc, rounded by the dark chocolatey richness of deeply-structured merlot. Lastly, the soils at the primary site, commonly found at higher elevations on Mt. Veeder, foster in both varietals a lovely thread of minerality --a signature character of all Virage wines.

Napa Valley's exceptional geologic diversity offers an extraordinary place to practice the art of blending in Bordeaux tradition. With a staggering array of 33 different soil series in Napa Valley--not to mention site-specific slope, aspect, wind and sun exposure patterns--winermakers are blessed with opportunity for unique expression of all five Bordeaux varietals. From our cooler corner, we hope Virage recalls the character of a fine blend from St. Emilion.