This limited bottling offers the opportunity to discover the intriguing personality of Cabernet Franc, which is a variety often used in blending Bordeaux-style wines. We sourced Cabernet Franc from the Tamagni Vineyard on the northeast side of Napa Valley, just south of Calistoga. Two favorite pairings: pancetta-wrapped beef filet with roasted Brussels sprouts, and portobella and spinach lasagna layered with smoked provolone cheese.
Barrel Aging: 20 Months, 100% French Oak (50% New)
Varietal Composition: 96% Cabernet Franc, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot
Production: 243 cases
An exceptional Cabernet Franc vineyard near Calistoga was the catalyst for our decision to make this special bottling. Both the vineyard and the long, mild 2009 growing season are reflected in this Cabernet Franc’s rich, complex layers of black Bing cherry, boysenberry, ripe plum, dark-roasted espresso, black tea and chocolate. Mouth-coating tannins frame the flavors, which turn to lively black raspberry midpalate. The smooth, polished finish lingers with hints of caramel and toasty oak spices from barrel aging.
We sourced the Cabernet Franc from Tamagni Vineyards, which is located along the Silverado Trail just south of Calistoga. Cabernet Franc is often used to enhance the framework of Bordeaux-style wines, but this warm vineyard site, with its well-draining, low-vigor, rock-and-clay soils, yields a wine with all the elements to shine on its own. A splash of Merlot, from neighboring Three Palms Vineyard, and Cabernet Sauvignon, from Hewitt Vineyard in Rutherford, complemented the wine’s flavors and texture. Cabernet Franc’s history has been unearthed through DNA research; it is one of the parents, along with Sauvignon Blanc, of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Although winter and spring rainfall during the 2009 growing season was only about two-thirds of normal, the timing of the rains was excellent for the vines. Our Merlot vines completed budbreak in late March and developed through a frost-free spring. Ideal conditions prevailed during bloom and berry set in May. Moderate temperatures during summer and early fall produced excellent fruit quality by allowing the grapes to ripen slowly and fully, while maintaining acidity. A fabulous vintage!
After hand harvesting the fruit and then hand sorting it twice at the winery, we gently destemmed the grapes to retain at least 60 percent whole berries. Three days of cold soaking before fermentation gently extracted the deep purple color and rich varietal flavors from the skins. Following fermentation, extended skin contact and gentle pressing, the wine completed malolactic fermentation in barrels to round the acidity. Three gentle rackings naturally clarified the wine, while barrel aging married the rich Cabernet Franc flavors with toasty oak tones. We bottled it without fining.