Month: November 2017

Cabernet Franc Day — December 4th

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Happy Cabernet Franc Day may not roll off your lips like many other holiday greetings but it is worth noting and celebrating. Many questions arise with Cabernet Franc Day. Let’s address the key topics.

1. What is Cabernet Franc? The grape originated in Bordeaux, France in the 1700’s for its first recording. Yet many wine scholars believe it is the parent to Cabernet Sauvignon. It has been known for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot to add in the production of Bordeaux’s. Cabernet Franc is a bit lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon.
2. What does it taste like? The styles and areas effect the bouquet, but generally speaking you can be assured that it will possess aromas of tobacco, raspberry, bell pepper and even violets. It also contributes to a peppery fragrance in many wines.
3. Is it a blending varietal or stand alone? Many wineries add a small percentage 1-5% to spice up their Cabernet Sauvignon. A limited number of wine aficionados collect and seek out this varietal for their cellar. If you are looking for a thick, chocolate, earthy varietal – this is the one! I am one of those who believe that nothing is more elegant than a 100% Cabernet Franc.
4. What are some of the best Cabernet Franc’s to purchase? Here are some of the key producers which I either have in the cellar or have tasted and can attest to their worthiness. I listed by AVA or sub-AVA to make it easier to figure out their location:

Napa Valley: Crocker & Starr; Trespass; Barnett, Keenan, YoungInglewood, Detert Family Vineyards, Ehlers Estate, Oakville East Exposure, Ovid, Titus, Viader, Vineyard 29, William Harrison, Kenefick Ranch


Sonoma Valley: Ledson Winery, Lang and Reed, Hook & Ladder, Pride Mountain, Gundlach Bundschu Winery, deLorimier Winery, Acorn Winery


Livermore Valley: Enoteca Five, Wood Family Vineyards, Steven Kent Winery, Wente, 3 Steve’s, Murrieta’s Well


Lodi AVA: Ink Blot by Michael David Winery


Central Coast: San Marcos Creek Vineyard


Calaveras County, Amador County, El Dorado County: No recommendations at this time.

Pick up a bottle and share with your friends — Happy Cabernet Franc Day!


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Per FTC disclosure: All wines were purchased at full retail or Club Membership pricing. The following wines were sold at industry discount: Wood Family, Inkblot, San Marcos Creek


Cariñena– The Region to Watch

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“I’ve found something” is the battle cry for this region. Even though this area was the birthplace for Garnacha, I had not personally tasted nor fully understood the quality and underappreciated value it possessions.

Firstly, the area without vineyards, would look more like a moonscape with its rocky soil. Even with vines, it is not your typical scenery of a vineyard! Yet they it does rain on the plains in Spain and the vines do seek out the life giving water. Cariñena is located in the high altitude region of Aragon in the northeast of Spain. It is about half way between Madrid and Barcelona. Cariñena has doubled its distribution in the US in the past year and has been cited by both and Wine Enthusiast as the region to watch!
At the recent break out session at WBC17 held in Santa Rosa, California, we were fortunate enough to taste six wines from this area. This one wine was so compelling, I couldn’t wait to write about it. I keep copious notes on all wines tasted during the year and in December publish lists of the Best Wines of the year. I generally don’t pre-announce any specific wine, but this one I know has already made the list! It received my highest rating given to less than wines in 2017. If that wasn’t enough of an endorsement, let me talk a bit about this wine.

particular bottle
It is San Valero and is called 2012 Particular Centenarias. The Garnacha vines are 80-100 years old and is aged in the barrel for 12 months and 18 months in the bottle. The wine is as smooth as silk, yet “meaty enough” to pull leather and oak off the nose. Tasting it blasts out structure, intensity and unending complexity. Again, if this was not enough to take note of this wine, it sells in the USA for a pittance, perhaps as low as $30. Yes no zeros were missing! In the top wine of 2017, several will be in the $150-200 and this Garnacha will stand alone as the value of the year.

So I too have adopted their Battle Cry “I found something” – it is a great wine at an unbelievable value. Thanks Lyn Farmer for sharing the story.


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Audelyn Wines

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Double your pleasure, double your fun is an old jingle but it applies to Audelyn Wines also! Audelyn wines was named for one of the co-owners twin daughters, Audrey & Madelyn. Thus the two swans on the label and cork. As it states on their website, “The logo of two swans also serves as a tribute to the girls and represents elegance, love, purity and a connectedness of life.”


The two owners are Mitchell Masotti and Blake Burnham. Mitchell is the wine maker and like so many good wine makers, has traveled extensively crafting his trade (Craggy Range in New Zealand). His stints include an Enology degree at CSU Fresno, assistant winemaker at Dutton-Goldfield, MacPhail, Freeman and today besides Audelyn he is the assistant winemaker at Bevan Cellars. The goal of Audelyn Wines is to produce handcrafted, small lot production wines show casing both Pinot Noirs and Roses. Today they are approximately 600 cases/year.


I received a note from Brock Watts, an Audelyn advocate, asking me to taste it and provide some feedback.
First, the wine is a refined and a light Pinot Noir in color with a pleasing viscosity. The flavor included a delicate rose petal, black cherry and a hint of strawberry. It was perfectly balanced between high acidity and low tannins. This was an excellent representation of Russian River Pinot Noir. For the price point of $35, this is a wine to be bought and drank. I asked Brock how long it could be laid down for but have yet to get an answer. However, I suspect once you taste it, you will not want to wait long to enjoy the balance of your purchase! Go double your pleasure and double your fun — buy two bottles!!


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