2004 Sodaro Estate Winery ‘Felicity’ Cabernet Sauvignon

Mission Codename: More than Luck

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Send Agent Red to Sodaro Estate, one of the very first wineries to be infiltrated by the Wine Spies, back in 2007. Direct Agent Red to procure an exclusive wine from their library – for our eager Operatives

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Sodaro Estate Winery

Wine Subject: 2004 Felicity Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker: Bill and Dawnine Dyer

Backgrounder: Back in 1997, when we were fledgling Agents of the wine trade, we sent Agent Red to investigate today’s winery. What he discovered, then, were wines of distinction and beauty. Agent Red’s return to Sodaro is a nostalgic one as his love for Sodaro is reaffirmed by today’s award-winning Sodaro Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Dark candy-apple red with beautiful ruby red edges that practically glow. When swirled, this wine shows a soft surface that hints at the viscosity and mouth-feel. On settling, thin tears move slowly down the inside edge of the glass

Smell – Perfumy and deeply layered, this wine show off gorgeous top notes of blackberry, black cherry, raspberry and cassis. These hover right over dried rose petals, soft forest floor, dried meats, brown sugar (have you ever smelled a See’s Candy Butterscotch Square?) and smoky cinnamon

Feel – The deep color of this wine belies its soft body. The wine is wet and softly light on initial entry, then a medium-bodied feel emerges as fine-grained tannins add a tender mineral grippiness

Taste – Initially bold, then immediately softer, leading with flavors of juicy raspberry, black cherry and blackberry. After a moment, follow-on flavors of young strawberry, pomelo (Asian grapefruit), hibiscus flower, dried meats and subtlest rose perfume

Finish – Very long and very flavorful, rich with red fruit and soft mineral-spice flavors

Conclusion – I had the highest expectations for my return to Sodaro Estate – and I was not disappointed! Today’s 2004 Felicity Cabernet Sauvignon is a remarkable treat with a unique feel and aromas and flavors that had me savoring each sip of my review bottle. Perfectly integrated and perfectly balanced, this wine is drinking beautifully, right now. For an extra special treat, cellar a few bottles for up to 10 years (or more?). Most of all, make sure you purchase a few bottles to enjoy – soon!

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Bill and Dawnine Dyer

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: A great vineyard and a light touch are the fundamental building blocks of a great wine. After that it’s having a well selected tool box and knowing how and when to use it.

FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: The first Sodaro wines were made in 2003 and released in 2006.


AGENT RED: Greetings, Bill and Dawnine. We are thrilled to be showing your 2004 Felicity Cabernet Sauvignon today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

WINEMAKERS: it’s nice to meet you

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

WINEMAKERS: a trip to France in 1970 was the seminal moment for me… both for wine & food. It made me want to understand wine better; as agriculture, as craft, and as culture.

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

WINEMAKERS: After so many years in the business, it’s not as simple as that, but since you asked, I think I’d like to honor the grape grower here- what is done in the vineyard has the largest impact on how we make wine.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

WINEMAKERS: The craft of winemaking is compelling and driven by seasonal cycles… for me it would be impossible to sit out a harvest, so on one level it is for myself. But ultimately we want to share it, so it’s also for our customers and friends. It’s a conversation.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

WINEMAKERS: The 2004 Felicity Cabernet Sauvignon is a Cabernet blend, incorporating small amounts of Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Sodaro Vineyard is a little jewel of a vineyard- 9.5 acres in the Combsville region with as much diversity in a small vineyard as we might expect to find in a much larger vineyard. Don Sodaro and Mike Wolf planted the vineyard in 1999 and Bill & I got involved in 2002 when the vineyard first started to produce. Felicity is Don Sodaro’s wife and we’ve made this blend in her honor. It shows a dark red cherry fruit upfront in both the aromas and the pallet with a firm structure and supple tannins. It’s a big wine, but graceful.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

WINEMAKERS: I love it with lamb shanks and white beans… a light gremalata really makes the fruit sing. In the summer it’s great with a steak or seared tuna.

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Napa Valley so special?

WINEMAKERS: Napa Valley is a special place. I’ve been making wine here since the 70’s and it never ceases to amaze me. At it’s most basic, it’s a convergence of great soils, a great climate and the intense concentration of passionate winemakers and winegrowers. At the risk of sounding a little cliché, it’s also a lifestyle. Sodaro is a good example of what’s going on in Napa Valley.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

WINEMAKERS: We’re finalizing the 2008 blends, reviewing the 2009s and starting to prune in the vineyard.

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

WINEMAKERS: Are we talking wine appreciation here? In general- I think a good wine merchant is important at all levels of wine appreciation… and one that has in store tasting is even better. Taste as much as you can… don’t over study it, but whenever you have a glass of wine try to describe it- it helps you remember it and differentiate it from other wines- then just enjoy it. Learn to trust your own pallet and embrace the diversity of the world of wine. Sodaro Wines- we hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

WINEMAKERS: No, you’ve been very thorough!

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Sodaro Estate Winery and vineyard can be seen in this satellite photo.

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