Luxe Napa Red Atop Pritchard Hill

Today’s Story: Ovid Napa Valley

Ovid Napa Valley is a “cult” winery established in 2000 by husband and wife Mark Nelson and Dana Johnson, and 2005 was their inaugural vintage. Situated at 1,400 feet elevation on secluded Pritchard Hill, Ovid consists of a 15 acre vineyard planted largely to Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, though it includes plots of Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Syrah as well. Ovid practices organic viticulture and the vineyard is broken into one-acre blocks with various rootstocks and clones to allow for an experimental philosophy of winemaking. Winemaker Austin Peterson has been with Ovid since 2006, and he enjoys utilizing both traditional and cutting edge winemaking techniques to produce wines with a sense of place. The Ovid winery utilizes gravity flow to minimize handling of the wines, and fermentation is accomplished using only native yeasts before the wines age and transfer to bottle unfined and unfiltered.

Ovid remains steadfast in their support of sustainable practices in the vineyards and the winery, keeping bees, using cover crops, and using their own compost to avoid inhibiting natural biodiversity. They also placed owl boxes, bluebird boxes, and an insectary garden on the property to facilitate a more natural form of pest control. Ovid even maintains a fruit and nut orchard where they grow cherries, plums, pluots, peaches, pomegranates, and persimmons which are then allocated to Napa restaurants including The French Laundry and The Restaurant at Meadowood (which unfortunately burned down in 2020). The winery itself is powered by solar energy and built of wood, stone, and concrete which blends effortlessly into the mountainous surroundings.

In terms of production, Ovid crafts four main wines which include their signature Ovid Napa Valley (Cabernet Sauvignon dominant), Hexameter (Cabernet Franc dominant), Loc. Cit. (100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the best plots only in the best vintages), and Syrah. As special as the main Ovid wines are, they also release highly limited quantities of Experiment bottlings which change vintage to vintage to showcase the unique blends, varieties, winemaking styles, and terroir Peterson has to play with. Total production is said to be between 1,000 and 1,200 cases per vintage, with roughly 85% of that going direct to customers on the membership list.

To learn more about Ovid and their wines, view pictures of the beautiful winery, or find the source for much of today’s information above, visit the Ovid website here.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Hexameter

65% Cabernet Franc, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot; 14.8% ABV

The 2015 Hexameter is opaque deep ruby in color, still certainly showcasing its youth. I decanted this for four hours, which I think it needed, guiding the nose into expressive aromas of blackberry, black cherry, blackcurrant, redcurrant, tobacco, green peppercorn, graphite, vanilla, and oak. On the palate, I get notes of black cherry, blackberry, spiced plum, blueberry, orange peel, violets, tobacco, cola, pencil shavings, graphite, and toasted oak. There’s a peppery and herbal characteristic to this wine that really showcases the Cabernet Franc well. This is full-bodied with high acidity, fine-grained medium (+) tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $310. This is an incredibly delicious wine, though it is very young at this stage and I don’t think it offers great QPR. You could lob $100 off this price and I think that would be much fairer, though I am sure this will grow into an absolute showstopper with more cellaring.

Over-Extracted Red Blend From Alexander Valley

Today’s Story: Captûre Wines

Captûre Wines is a boutique estate established in 2008 in what is now the Pine Mountain-Cloverdale Peak AVA within Sonoma County. Though now part of Jackson Family Wines, Captûre was established by Carol and Michael Foster with founding winemakers May-Britt and husband Denis Malbec (formerly of Château Latour). With a goal of marrying rugged, mountainous California frontier with French winemaking, the team settled upon Pine Mountain with their estate vineyard between 1,600 and 2,500 feet elevation in the Mayacamas Mountains. The brutal landscape which makes up the Tin Cross Vineyard consists of volcanic gravelly soil, originally planted to vine by homesteaders in 1855 and today consisting largely of Cabernet Sauvignon with small blocks of Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. Following sustainable and organic farming practices, Captûre receives only about 2 tons of fruit per acre due to the harsh geography of their estate, in turn which produces highly concentrated and intense mountain fruit. Since 2015, winemaker Sam Teakle took over and he crafts wines from the Pine Mountain-Cloverdale Peak, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, and Lake County appellations.

Today’s Wine: 2013 Harmonie

85% Cabernet Franc, 9% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon; 15% ABV

The 2013 Harmonie is opaque deep purple/ruby in color. I decanted this for 2 hours and drank it over the following 3 hours or so, and unfortunately this got worse with air versus the better I was hoping for. The nose is highly concentrated with aromas of blackberry, plum, blueberry, crème de cassis, licorice, cigar box, clay, baking spice, bell pepper, and oak. There’s some heat there too from the high ABV. Moving onto the palate, I get notes of black plum, blackberry compote, wet tobacco, coffee, chocolate, blood, sopping wet herbs, and ground black pepper. This thing drinks like a cocktail wine. It is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, high tannins, and a medium (+) length finish that is somewhat repulsive. Balance seems to be out of whack here too. 180 cases produced.

Price: $60 (I paid $40 on sale). I really wanted to like this wine, which was made by the late Denis Malbec (whose wines at Blankiet I love), but I do not. It is filled to the brim with over-extracted fruit and what I speculate may be a heavy-handed winemaking mandate. You should lose no sleep over passing on this wine.

Great Value From a Historic Bordeaux 2nd Wine

Today’s Story: Château La Mission Haut-Brion

Château La Mission Haut-Brion is a highly regarded Bordeaux wine estate with history dating back to 1540. That year, merchant Arnaud de Lestonnac purchased the land that would become La Mission Haut-Brion and he married Marie, sister of Jean de Pontac of neighboring Château Haut-Brion. By the time of his death in 1548, the estate produced great wines and management fell to his son Pierre who set about enhancing the reputation further. A century later, in 1682, Pierre’s daughter Olive de Lestonnac (who had devoted her life to charitable works and had no children) gifted the estate by annuity in her will to the Lazarists of Bordeaux and La Mission became property of the Catholic Church.

The Lazarists quickly set about developing the vineyards further, with great emphasis on improving farming practices, quality of the wines, and reputation. By the early 1700s, La Mission produced 24 barrels of wine annually and, by the mid 1700s, became recognized by French nobility for the immense quality of these wines. The incredible improvement and quality under the Lazarists shifted hands, however, in 1792 when the property was confiscated by the state during the French Revolution. Businessman Martial-Victor Vaillant purchased the estate in auction, however his family’s ownership was short-lived when his daughter sold it to Célestin Coudrin-Chiapella in 1821. As its first American owner, Chiapella continued to improve La Mission and set about retiring there one day. Having come from New Orleans, the family also stressed the importance of trade and Old World/New World ties which catapulted the estate to high regard throughout France, the UK, and the US.

Château La Mission Haut-Brion shifted ownership again in 1919 when Frédéric Otto Woltner, another Bordeaux merchant, purchased it. The Woltner family helped bring the estate into the modern era, in part by implementing the use of stainless steel vats to better control fermentation and, since 1927, producing a white wine. Frédéric passed away in 1933 and passed the estate to his three children, with Henri leading management. During WWII, the family was forced to house German officers at the château but miraculously kept them from raiding the cellars by demanding respect from their “guests.” Following the war, the Woltner family regained complete control until Henri passed away in 1974.

With La Mission up for sale yet again in 1983, Domaine Clarence Dillon came in and purchased the estate through a very natural transition. The Dillon family immediately started improving the estate even further, beginning in the vineyards and progressing through renovations to construction of new buildings and cellars. Though the estate has lived through a somewhat tumultuous history due to ownership changes and wars, they released highly revered wines over the centuries known for quality and consistency that is largely unmatched anywhere in the world.

Château La Mission Haut-Brion consists of 29 hectares of vineyards in the Pessac-Léognan appellation. Situated on an elevated gravel terrace, the soil of La Mission is particularly suited for growing wine grapes with a subsoil of clay, sand, and limestone. Of the 29 hectares, 25 are planted to red varieties of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc; the remaining 4 hectares are planted to white varieties of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc. All fruit is harvested by hand and sorted before fermentation in steel vats. After two weeks, the wines are drained and transferred to new oak barrels for 20-24 months before ultimately moving to bottle and aging further.

To learn more about this great estate, run through their wines over the years, or view images, I encourage you to visit the website here (also the source of the information above).

Today’s Wine: 2014 La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion

45% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Franc, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon; 14% ABV

The 2014 La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion is opaque deep ruby in color. I gave this about 3 hours to open up, and the nose showcases aromas of plum, blackcurrant, violet, tobacco, gravel, truffle, dried underbrush, pepper, and cedar. Once in the mouth, the wine displays notes of blackcurrant, black raspberry, fig, cigar box, smoke, forest floor, crushed rock, and bell pepper. The Cabernet Franc is quite evident in this one. The wine is medium- to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, fine grained medium tannins, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $65. I think this is one of the better value Bordeaux wines, particularly for the second wine of an estate with as high stature as Château La Mission Haut-Brion. Coupled with the fact the 2014 vintage can be often overlooked, this is a very nice wine for its cost.

Beautiful and Opulent Right Bank Bordeaux

Today’s Story: Vieux Château Certan

Vieux Château Certan (VCC) is a preeminent Bordeaux wine estate established in the mid-1700s in Pomerol on Bordeaux’s Right Bank. Though the early years are somewhat murky, the estate was founded by Jean Demay de Certan and the château itself traces to around 1770. Back then, the wines were bottled under the label Sertan. VCC quickly became one of the greatest wines produced in Pomerol and remains at that stature today, with the vineyards flanked by the great Château Pétrus and a short drive from Château Lafleur and Château Le Pin.

In 1924, change occurred when Belgian wine merchant Georges Thienpont (who owned Château Troplong Mondot) purchased VCC. Though the wines remained revered under his ownership, Georges sold everything through his own negociant business and limited its international exposure by doing so. It would not be until the 1980s when VCC started selling en primeur and racking up international acclaim. Though the estate weathered great troubles during the depression of the 1930s, it remains with the Thienpont family to this day. Alexandre Thienpont took over management and has since renovated the estate in 1988 and 2003 to continue constant improvement of the quality of wine. Today, Alexandre’s son Guillaume helps manage the estate and the team remains steadfast in their dedication to traditional winemaking aided by modern technology.

VCC consists of 14 hectares of vineyards, planted to roughly 65% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The estate practices sustainable farming and come harvest often moves row by row or even vine by vine depending on fruit readiness. VCC vinifies the wine using traditional oak and stainless steel vats that are temperature controlled, with an assortment of vats to allow for parcel by parcel vinification by variety and age of the vines. Production typically caps out at 5,000 cases per year, though there is a second wine called La Gravette de Certan which was introduced during the 1980s by Alexandre.

Fun Fact: Georges Thienpont introduced the iconic pink capsules as a way to track which of his negociant business clients purchased his VCC. Not wanting to offend his clients or make them uncomfortable by asking, he used these pink capsules to quietly and easily spot his wine in his clients’ cellars…or see if it was missing.

Today’s Wine: 2014 Vieux Château Certan

80% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon;

The 2014 Vieux Château Certan is opaque medium ruby in color with deep garnet variation. I let this decant for 4 hours and drank it over the following 3. Once it opens up, the nose expresses aromas of blackberry, plum, blueberry, violet, cigar box, pepper, wet slate, dried herbs, chocolate, and slight oak. Moving to the palate, the wine showcases blackcurrant, black cherry, purple and blue florals, tobacco leaf, black truffle, forest floor, green herbs, mocha, cedar, and rocky mineral. This is medium- to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (+) but velvety tannins, and a long finish. Very opulent and gorgeous wine.

Price: $200. This is a tough price-point to call a wine a good “value,” but I honestly think this fits the bill. 2014 Bordeaux is really starting to show nicely (though it has more than plenty of life left) and the pricing is much easier to stomach than more highly prized vintages around it. I would stock up on this one.

Tasty Bordeaux Blend to Broaden Your Palate

Today’s Story: Viñas de la Erre

Viñas de la Erre is a family owned and operated winery established in Valle de Guadalupe in 2009. The Erre family acquired the Hacienda San Martín Caballero back in 1985, however it functioned mostly as a family farm and way for the family to expand their legacy in Guadalupe. In 2008, however, Claudio met Rogelio Morales who was then cellar manager and assistant winemaker at Spring Mountain Winery in Napa and they struck up a friendship. When Rogelio and his family visited the Erre’s in Valle de Guadalupe, Rogelio realized the potential of the land for winegrowing and offered to help mentor the change from farming to winemaking. Since fully launching in 2014, Viñas de la Erre practices full estate bottling (similar to Spring Mountain) and winegrower Ernesto I. Rocha, enologist Rogelio, and vineyard manager Claudio work to craft premium estate wines. Together as a team they sustain the vineyards, hand harvest all fruit, and monitor the winemaking process from fermentation to barrel aging and bottling.

Today’s Wine: 2013 Selección de Tintos Reserva

68% Cabernet Franc, 16% Petite Verdot, 12% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon; 13.8% ABV

The 2013 Selección de Tintos Reserva is opaque deep ruby in color. I recommend giving this a good 45 minute decant before enjoying. The nose showcases aromas of black cherry, blackberry, tobacco, scorched earth, dried herbs, black pepper, chocolate, and oak. Once on the palate, I get notes of black plum, blackcurrant, black raspberry, anise, sweet tobacco, rocky earth, underbrush, and light baking spice. This is medium-bodied with medium acidity, medium tannins, and a medium (+) finish.

Price: $31. This drinks right around it’s price-point, but I’d love to see this closer to $22-25 per bottle. I noticed during some research this sold for $42 at one point, which I believe is definitely too high. Pair with roasted pork, beef burgers, or pepper-crusted steak.

Premier Napa Valley Rosé

Today’s Story: Blankiet Estate

Blankiet’s roots start with Claude and Katherine Blankiet, a couple who spent years searching for land conducive to grape growing on the western foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains. Finally, in early 1996, an agent working with the Blankiet family showed them an undeveloped property above the famous Napanook vineyard (and Dominus Estate) and the Blankiets purchased the land on site. From the onset of their search, Claude and Katherine desired to create world-class, high-quality, small production Bordeaux style wines and now, with ownership of the land, set right to work. During development of the vineyards, the Blankiets brought in famed viticulturist David Abreu and winemaker Helen Turley for their expertise. The terroir of Blankiet consists of three volcanic knolls with alluvial deposits between them thanks to water flowing down from the mountains. The vineyards are broken into four sections, each with a unique subsoil and microclimate, and they used root stocks from First Growth Bordeaux estates to get the ball rolling. Today, they produce 5 wines from the Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot.

Blankiet farms their vineyards utilizing organic methods (they are Napa Green Certified) and their position on the hillsides in depleted soils requires a great deal of manual work but results in intensely flavored fruit. During the winter, Blankiet Spur prunes their vines and as they grow throughout the spring and summer vineyard workers thin out buds, flowers, leaves, and grape clusters to reduce yields and enhance the wine’s concentration. During harvest, Blankiet completes up to 32 “mini-harvests” thanks to their array of soils and microclimates between and amongst the four varieties they grow. Though the estate examines sugar levels, acidity, and pH to help in their picking assessments, most of the fruit is harvested by taste tests of the berries and any deemed ready are de-leafed and trimmed of damaged clusters that afternoon. Harvest begins at 4am the following morning so workers can pick fruit in cooler temperatures and avoid the 50+ degree temperature swings common in Blankiet’s vineyards from day to night as well as fruit flies that are inactive at night. All fruit is carried to the winery in small baskets before being destemmed by a gentle machine and sorted by two state-of-the-art optical sorters. A few employees manually check and sort the fruit at the end of the process. After sorting, Blankiet adds carbon dioxide ice which maintains the fruit at a cold temperature while displacing oxygen and this is then gravity loaded into small fermentation tanks to begin cold maceration.

During the actual winemaking process, each pick is fermented separately and cold maceration lasts generally a week which allows enzymes to soften the fruit’s cellular structure but inhibit alcoholic fermentation due to the temperature. Once cold maceration is complete, Blankiet slowly warms the temperature of the fruit mass so alcoholic fermentation can begin and they closely monitor temperatures to help the yeasts thrive. The winemaking team checks each tank two times each day, with pump-overs a result according to taste. When the wines are ready for malolactic fermentation, they are moved to new French oak barrels in a warm cave for several months until they are ultimately moved into the cold aging caves where they call home for the next couple of years. Unlike many wineries today, Blankiet steers clear of adding sulphur dioxide (SO2) to their wine barrels when natural evaporation eventually takes place but they instead refill this open space with more wine. When the wine is ready to be bottled, it is done so on-site without fining or filtration.

I previously wrote about Blankiet in Fit for a King when I reviewed the 2014 Blankiet Estate Paradise Hills Vineyard, and you can also check out this prior post for a description of my visit to the property in September, 2019. For the source of today’s information and more for you to explore, check out Blankiet’s website here.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Prince of Hearts Rosé

Predominantly Merlot, with some Cabernet Franc (no tech sheet); 14% ABV

The 2016 Prince of Hearts Rosé is medium salmon/copper in color and transparent. On the nose, the wine showcases aromas of white peach, ripe melon, cherry, dried herbs, dried rose petal, white florals, cream, and stony minerality. On the palate, I get notes of muddled strawberry, wild raspberry, peach, red apple skins, tropical citrus, white and red florals, white peppery spice, mineral, and a hint of oak. This wine is medium-bodied with vibrant medium (+) acidity into a bright, crisp, and refreshing medium length finish.

Price: $100 direct from winery. This will be difficult to come across if you’re not on Blankiet’s mailing list, however it is worth trying if you find a bottle. Though this is the very expensive end of Rosé, it certainly is the best from California that I’ve tried. Pair this with melon and prosciutto, shrimp, salmon, or a salad with grilled chicken.

Utterly Complex Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Franc

Today’s Story: Jonata

I previously wrote about Jonata twice, first in Why Wait for Screaming Eagle? when I reviewed the 2005 El Corazón de Jonata and then in Santa Ynez Sangiovese when I reviewed the 2010 Tierra.

Long story short, if you haven’t read these prior posts, Jonata is owned by Stan Kroenke who also owns the LA Rams and Screaming Eagle. Kroenke bought 586 acres of property, though only 84 acres are planted under vine, and like many wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley Jonata found success planting Rhône varietals such as Syrah but also grows Sangiovese and Bordeaux varietals. For more I’d steer you to my prior posts, particularly “Why Wait for Screaming Eagle?”.

Today’s Wine: 2006 El Alma de Jonata

95% Cabernet Franc, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Merlot; 14.9% ABV

The 2006 El Alma de Jonata is opaque deep ruby in color. This needs some time in the decanter to fully blossom, but once it does the nose showcases aromas of blueberry, black raspberry, black cherry, cassis, black licorice, cedar, tobacco, graphite, chocolate, mild herbs, and a hint of vanilla. On the palate, this gorgeous wine offers notes of blackberry, blueberry, plum, violet and rose, cigar box, pencil shavings, wet rock, scorched earth, blood, and exotic spice. This wine is full-bodied with high acidity, medium (+) tannins, and a long finish. Utterly complex and constantly evolving in the glass, this Cabernet Franc is drinking beautifully now but has the structure to go another 7-10 years at least. 426 cases produced.

Price: $155 library release direct from winery. Jonata is producing arguably the best wines from the Santa Ynez Valley and for their complexity and rarity the price demonstrates that. Pair this with grilled steak, peppered chicken, or lamb.

Howell Mountain Elegance

Today’s Story: Viader

Viader was founded in 1986 by Delia Viader (first commercial release in 1989) and is located on the slopes of Howell Mountain 1,300 feet above the Napa Valley floor. Delia was born in Argentina and came to the United States as a post-graduate student, and she holds a Doctorate in Philosophy from Sorbonne University in Paris and studied Business in the US at MIT. While Delia served as the founding winemaker of Viader, her son Alan later picked up the torch and acts as winemaker today. Alan started working in the vineyards at the age of 9 and pursued his passion for grape growing after high school by attending a program in Sonoma and attaining a Viticulture Management degree. In 2002 Alan became the vineyard manager at Viader and in 2006 the lead winemaker.

As winemaker, Alan is said to be more hands-on and an experimentalist. For instance, he tries a range of organic, biodynamic, and sustainable practices in farming the vineyards and producing wine, seeking to strike a balance to produce the highest quality wines possible. Additionally, Alan experiments in the cellars with different blends, yeasts, fermentations, and barrel options.

Viader produces relatively small quantities of wine across four bottlings. Their signature, the Viader Red Blend, is always a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and was 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Cabernet Franc in the 1989 inaugural release. They also have the Viader Black Label (a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot), Viader V (Cabernets Sauvignon and Petit Verdot), and DARE (Cabernet Franc).

Fun fact: For over a decade, Viader produced wines at Rombauer Vineyards prior to construction of their own winery. Back then, Rombauer functioned as a custom crush winery for many now-prominent Napa Valley vintners.

Today’s Wine: 2007 Viader Red Blend

71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Cabernet Franc; 14.8% ABV

This wine is medium to deep ruby in color and almost completely opaque. I filtered and decanted this due to some fine sediment in the bottle, and the decanting helped a bit of the alcohol blow off the nose while bringing out some of the wine’s complexities. On the nose I get aromas of jammy blackberry, anise, cigar box, dark chocolate, vanilla, and oak. I can also notice the alcohol on the nose. Once in the mouth, the wine showcases flavors of chewy blackberry and blueberry, cola, cardamom, iron, dried earth, finely crushed rock, and green herbs. Overall a very silky wine, this is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity and medium (+) tannins into a long finish with notes of sappy blackberry and plum. Still some time left for bottle aging, though I don’t see this getting any better from here.

Price: $100. I think there are better values out there at this price-point, whereas I could see this being more reasonably priced around the $70-75 mark. Pair this with beef in steak or burger form.

Rockstar Value from the Loire Valley

Today’s Story: Domaine des Roches Neuves

Domaine des Roches Neuves was founded in 1992 by Thierry Germain following his move to the Loire Valley from his native Bordeaux. At 23 years old, Thierry soon met Charly Foucault from Clos Rougeard who would become an inspiration behind some of his winemaking practices. Thierry converted his domaine to biodynamic viticulture, as well as being certified organic, in an effort to let his vines guide him rather than play a heavier hand that removes truth and transparency from terroir to bottle. This practice helps Thierry’s wines showcase vibrant ripe fruits (thanks in addition to relatively early harvesting) with incredible purity while avoiding rustic vegetal notes. Also, his red wines do not typically have high tannin but rather integrated, soft tannins conducive to drinkability.

When harvesting his fruit, Thierry practices very traditional methods such as hand harvesting and hand sorting at the winery. Further, all of his wines are fermented with natural yeasts in no new oak barrels or tanks. For the wine I am reviewing today, grapes are 100% de-stemmed and fermented in conical tanks. There is a great overview of Thierry’s history and practices here, as well as an overview of his wine portfolio. The domaine’s website also contains fact sheets and an overview of the history and people here.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Les Mémoires

100% Cabernet Franc; 13% ABV

I picked this up based on a recommendation from an employee at one of my local wine stores. He believes that Thierry Germain is making some of the best wine in Saumur Champigny, and while I need to explore more offerings from the region this already seems tough to beat. The wine is a deep ruby color, though I almost want to call it purple especially near the edges of the glass. The nose showcases aromas of crunchy blackberry, steel cut oats, chocolate, cigar box, damp forest floor, violets, slight bell pepper, and mineral. Once in the mouth, we get flavors of tart blueberry, blackberry, pomegranate, loamy earth, pepper, and limestone minerality. This is medium- to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium tannins, and a long finish. Give this a few more years of bottle age, though if you can’t wait it is drinking well with some air.

Price: $70. This is a rockstar wine well worth the price tag, especially compared to some of their neighbors. The traditional style does a beautiful job portraying the “place,” and this wine comes from 110+ year old vines. Pair this with beef, pork, roast chicken, duck, or lamb.

The Cabernet in Cabernet Sauvignon

Today’s Story: Alpha Omega

I talked about Alpha Omega’s origins in a prior post (A Napa Take On Chablis), though will reproduce it briefly here.

Alpha Omega is the creation of Robin and Michelle Baggett following their move to Napa Valley in 2006. Though Robin began his foray into wine much earlier, in 1988 as a grape grower and in 1998 by starting Tolosa Winery, Michelle worked in the design and development of hospitality brands before the couple culminated their pursuits into Alpha Omega.

The winery, as I mentioned before, is known for their red wines and particularly high-quality single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. However, we have a couple bottles of the Cabernet Franc, a limited bottling I can no longer find online, that I thought would be fun to review prior to reviewing one of their single vineyard Cabs. Cab Franc is probably known to most as a blending grape for Bordeaux wines, however they are becoming much easier to find as a standalone wine.

For those of you relatively new to wine, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc are the two parents of Cabernet Sauvignon. The cross occurred during the mid-1600s in southwestern France.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Cabernet Franc

100% Cabernet Franc; 15.5% ABV

This is a cool offering from Alpha Omega, as I did not know they released a Cabernet Franc specific wine. That being said, this does appear to be a limited release available to mailing list members since I cannot find anymore on their website or stores online.

In color, the wine is medium purple with pale purple/ruby variation toward the edges of the glass. I double decanted this bottle so it would be ready for dinner, and with the accelerated air it opened up nicely. On the nose, we have aromas of blackberry, blueberry, plum, lilac, leather, sweet tobacco, and oak. There is a slight hint of alcohol on the nose as well, likely due to its relatively high ABV. Once in the mouth, flavors on the palate include blackcurrant, blueberry jam, loamy earth, tobacco leaf, and black pepper. This medium-bodied red has medium (+) acidity, medium (+) tannins, and a long, dark-fruit-forward finish.

Price: $100. Given similar-priced, high-quality Cab Franc I’ve tried, I think this is worth the tag if you’re used to paying around $100 for your wine. Nonetheless, I recently tried some outstanding Cab Franc from Tuscany and Michigan for about 1/3 the price and I think you’d be well served trying more Cab Franc from these regions or Chile and Argentina. Pair this with beef, duck, or pork (we had it with bbq pork sandwiches).

Note:

If you would like to try some French Cab Franc, keep an eye out for some Chinon!