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. Aging in 35% new French oak barrels melded toasty spices, caramel and mocha with the soft, rich dark-fruit flavors.
Barrel Aging: 20 Months, 100% French Oak (35% New)
Varietal Composition: 77% Cabernet Franc, 21% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon
Production: 357 cases
Approachable and richly flavored, our 2011 Cabernet Franc reveals cashmere-textured layers of plum tart, dried cherry and ripe boysenberry. Warm nuances of mocha, clove, leather and camphor add complexity. Plush tannins frame the dark-fruit flavors and carry them through the lingering caramel and toasty oak finish. The notably cool 2011 vintage gave the wine vibrant acidity, which enhances its ability to pair with a variety of foods. A few of our favorites include portabella lasagna layered with smoked provolone cheese, lamb kebabs with couscous, roasted pork loin, and sizzling steak.
Exceptional Cabernet Franc grapes from Tamagni Vineyard, which is located along the Silverado Trail just south of Calistoga, were the catalyst for our decision to make this special bottling. 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. Malbec, with its deep, ripe plum character comes from Peppone Vineyard, also located in Calistoga. A splash of Cabernet Sauvignon, from Hewitt Vineyard in Rutherford, completes the wine’s myriad of flavors and plush texture.
The persistently cool 2011 vintage decreased yields in Napa Valley, but the remaining grapes ripened slowly, achieving delicious flavors. For the second consecutive year, Napa Valley’s harvest was one of the latest on record. A wet winter and spring continued into mid-June, causing shatter during bloom and reducing the crop. While the steadily cool temperatures made us anxious and gave us gray hair, our Cabernet Franc proves—with its deep flavors and supple tannins—that this temperamental vintage produced many exceptional wines.
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.