2017 Kenefick Ranch Cabernet Franc, Caitlin’s Select – A Family Affair

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Kenefick Ranch 2017 Cabernet Franc Caitlin Select, earned a Silver Medal by the Professional Judges and a Bronze Medal from People’s Choice Judges at the 2020 Cabernet Franc Wine Competition hosted by California Wines and Wineries. This was a blind competition with two sets of judges in different areas. Wines were submitted from 14 states and numerous AVA’s from around the United States. For more on the wine competition sponsored by California Wines and Wineries see: https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2020/12/04/national-cabernet-franc-wine-competition-results-are-in-happy-cabernet-franc-day/

The Kenefick Winery

The Kenefick family has roots back to Ireland as farmers. They made their way originally to Iowa and then Minnesota. Tom Kenefick was the third in his family as a physician and then went on as a practicing neurosurgeon in San Francisco. He found the property of 250 acres in 1978. On site, the goal was to focus on Bordeaux style varietals. Today they produce Petit Sirah, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and a red blend. Also they have a few whites, like Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Blanc and a white blend. Most of the wines are award winning with scores in the 93 to 95 point range.

The daughter Caitlin grew up on the ranch. Today she is a partner, with her brother Chris, continuing to build the Kenefick Ranch legacy. Caitlin is involved in branding, distributor relationships, case volumes, direct to customer sales and oversees hiring and some marketing. While this may be called “Caitlin’s Select”, I call it one of my favorite and smooth Cabernet Franc’s. Chris focuses his attention on national sales, helping out in the vineyard and chatting with visitors in the tasting room (when you are able to visit).

The winemaker is Kent Jarman. Kent graduated from U.C. Davis in enology and viticulture. He did his first harvest as an intern at Duckhorn Vineyards in 2000. In 2002, he was hired at Duckhorn as the assistant winemaker. In 2007 he became the consulting winemaker at Kenefick Ranch Vineyards. He also is the winemaker and partner at Coup de Foudre (BTW, another favorite wine!).

The Wine

This 2017 Cabernet Franc is Estate grown in Kenefick Ranch sustainable farmed vineyards in Calistoga. The wine consists of 86% Cabernet Franc, 7% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot. It was aged 18 months in 65% new French oak and 35% neutral French oak barrels. Only 350 cases were produced.

On the eyes, it is bold and begs one to be introduced to its welcoming and bright personality of dark purple hues. On the nose, red cherry and plum swell into the olfactory senses. Once on the palate, soft leather, sweet pipe tobacco, chocolate and cherries swirl in the mouth. And when it warms up, the hint of pyrazine, the scent of green bell peppers wafted in the air as all good Cabernet Franc’s do. The finish was strong and long lasting. It will go at least another 10 years in the cellar. While their 2016 Cabernet Franc was rated at 94 points, their 2017 is even a finer vintage. As of today, no rating has been published but I would give it 95 points.

The Wine and Food Pairing

With the weather unseasonably warm, it was BBQ time once again. So last night, a simple treat of seared and seasoned hamburger, with purple onion and fresh tomatoes, along with broccoli and a Yukon Gold baked potato.  While the food was wonderful, the wine outshone the meal. Should have saved this tasty wine for a BBQ’ed ribeye!






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