2006 The Prince in his Caves Farina Vineyard
The name comes from Alberico Boncompagni Ludovisi, the Prince of Venosa– a winemaker who toiled for years, alone, on a tiny estate outside of Rome. I will not retell his story here, but just say that when I heard it, my breath caught within my chest and I thought that I was reading Poe or Aeschylus, and not the weekday New York Times.
“His caves” because the Prince did not release any wines that he made from 1986 till his last vintage in 1994; I imagine him not only tending his two miniscule vineyards, but in his caves, communing with nine years' worth of work, a complex, sedimented isolation.
The wine is a skin-fermented Sauvignon from Farina. It is from a different section of the vineyard than the LSB, from richer, loamier soil, and from a different, much more honeyed clone of Sauvignon. It is the same section that made the Cena in 2005, but in 2006 there was no botrytis at all. The grapes came in rich and fat; so fat that I thought that I had to bleed them to make good wine. So I determined to treat them like red grapes and destemmed then into a large fermenter from which I immediately bled off 20% of the juice. They spent the next 3 weeks there; first in a cold-soak and then with once or twice daily pumopovers until the wine reached 4 brix. Then I drained the wine to almost all new oak and allowed the fermentation to finish with complete leisure. The wine went dry in July 2007, and revealed complexity and pleasure beyond what I had ever hope for. The wine is honeyed from the fruit and new oak, but stern, complex, many layered from the skin fermentation and the pips. It has none of the excesses of the Cena. It is reticent rather than boisterous, withdrawn, like the Prince.
285 cases produced