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Wine of the Day

2001 Frank Family Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Rutherford Napa Valley

Frank Family Vineyards is a Napa Valley winery located just north of Rutherford. The winery was initially established in 1884 under the name Larkmead Winery. The historic winery building is still there and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Eventually, the winery transitioned over to Kornell Champagne Cellars, which is what the property was called when Hollywood executive Rich Frank and Koerner Rombauer teamed up to buy it in 1992. The Frank Family has since taken full ownership.

Frank Family Vineyards makes still, sparkling and dessert wines. Their dry, still wines include varietal bottlings of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. They also offer Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay) and Blanc de Noir sparkling wines and a “Port-style” wine made from Zinfandel. Some of the wines, including the Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Rutherford are available only to Frank Family club members and may also be subject to allocation.

The Frank Family Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford Reserve is based on grapes from the Winston Hill vineyard which lies about 500 feet up the Vaca Mountains on the east side of the Rutherford appellation in Napa Valley. The vineyard also includes some Merlot and Cabernet Franc which were likely included in this wine. The current winemaker and general manager of Frank Family Vineyards is Todd Graff. However, he joined the winery in 2003 and did not make the wine reviewed below.

Perhaps due in part to my cellar conditions which are excellent and on the cool side, this wine seemed younger than one might expect. The cork was in excellent shape, clean, tight and with no wine absorbed. The wine was decanted for sediment, but virtually none was in evidence. In the glass, the wine was very dark ruby with pigmented legs. The nose was still quite youthful — I blind tasted a sommelier friend on it and he thought it to be a 2005. The aromas were of oak, vanilla, black currant, currant leaf and cocoa with the oak being somewhat dominant. The palate was nearly full-bodied, but not rich. There were firm yet well-integrated tannins and some warmth from the alcohol. The flavors inlcuded oak, blackberry, black currant, cocoa, Indian spice, coconut and mint.

This is a well-made wine with a lot of complexity and its signature is on the money for Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. I would have rated it even higher if not for the slighly unbalanced oak and alcohol. The wine is at peak now, but it should hold for another three years or so. Recommended.

2001-Frank-Family-Reserve

2001 Frank Family Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Rutherford Napa Valley
Rating: Recommended
Drink: Now through 2013
Retail Price: n/a

Blend: 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 3% Merlot

Aging: 27 months in French oak barrels, 50% new and 50% once-used

Alcohol: 14.5%

Closure: Cork

Frank Family Vineyards is open to the public for tasting daily, 10AM to 4PM. For more details and a map to the winery, see the Frank Family winery listing on this site. For more information about the Rutherford AVA, see our spotlight on Rutherford.

The wine reviewed above was purchased from the winery upon release and has been well-cellared since.

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Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check out our comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2010 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

2008 Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

I’ve tasted the 2008 Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley twice now. Both times, it was the “wine of the day” in my tastings. So I think it’s only appropriate that it be Wine of the Day here at NorCal Wine.

In the glass, the 2008 Caymus Special Selection is dark, nearly opaque, ruby with pigmented legs. The nose offers intense blackberry, black currant and chocolate. On the palate, it is full-bodied with strong, thickly-powdery tannins and opulent black fruit. At first sip, the wine shows less complexity than it’s little brother the 2008 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. But the concentration, strength of fruit and structure are much greater in the Special Selection.

2007 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

The 2007 vintage of Robert Mondavi Winery's Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon looks powerful — opaque ruby, verging on purple, in color and leaves strongly pigmented legs on the glass. However, the nose is friendly and inviting with spicy black currant, fresh black cherry and chocolate milk. In keeping with the appearance, this is a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon and richer than most at this price level. The tannins are reminiscent of dark cocoa powder and the black fruit flavors persist into a moderately long finish along with some warmth from the alcohol. It’s tasty and an excellent value. Try it with five-spice short ribs or just a thick, juicy grilled hamburger. (Hold the ketchup and mustard.) Drink now through 2016. Highly Recommended.

2007-Mondavi-Cabernet

2007 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Rating: Highly Recommended

Drink: Now through 2016

Retail Price: $28
Blend: 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec
Origin: 38% To Kalon Vineyard, 29% Stags Leap District, 5% Oakville vineyards, 26% other Napa Valley vineyards, 2% Sonoma County
Aging: 16 months in 100% French oak, 15% new
Alcohol: 15.3%
Closure: Cork

If you enjoyed this article, please share it! Icons for popular sharing services are at the right above and also below.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check out our comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2010 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

2005 Tayerle Troubador

Tayerle is a small wine brand which sources grapes and then makes the wines at facilities in Oakland, Paso Robles and Sonoma. Founder Loren Tayerle has worked on the winemaking teams at both David Bruce Winery and Rosenblum Cellars. He leverages this experience to make interesting, yet approachable wines, most offered at very friendly price points. In the past, I’ve recommended his Malvoisie de Viol.

The 2005 Tayerle Troubador is dark ruby, verging on purple, with a very narrow pale rim. Attractive aromas of briary blackberry, spicy cherry and black pepper waft from the glass. First sip flavors are berries and spice. Creamy on the palate, the wine tastes a bit like a chocolate-cherry milkshake once it’s opened up. There is very good balance between the silky tannins, mouth-watering fruit and alcohol. It’s a wine that you don’t have to think about but which rewards a bit of focus. Once opened, the bottle winds up empty very quickly. Pair it with grilled meat or seared game bird. After writing my tasting notes, I enjoyed it with black truffle-infused cheeseburgers hot off the grill. Drink now through 2012. Recommended.

2005-Tayerle-Troubador

2005 Tayerle Troubador
Rating: Recommended

Drink: Now through 2012

Retail Price: $18
Blend: 50% Grenache, 50% Petite Sirah
Appellation: Paso Robles
Aging: 10 months in stainless steel & neutral French oak

Alcohol: 14.5%

Closure: Synthetic

This wine was purchased for review. It was not tasted blind.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it! Icons for popular sharing services are at the right above and also below.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check outour comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2010 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

2000 Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

I perused our wine cellar Friday night looking for a versatile red wine. I wanted one with fairly moderate alcohol to bring to dinner that night in Livermore at the Restaurant at Wente Vineyards. Almost immediately, the 2000 Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon caught my eye. I hadn’t tried the wine in quite a while but suspected it would be in it’s prime drinking window. The Far Niente wines are of very high quality, but not hugely extracted or tannic; I was confident the wine would go with just about whatever we ordered — as long as we avoided light seafood dishes. At 13.5% alcohol, I also knew I could offer a glass to their sommelier, Jorge Tinoco, share the rest of the bottle with my wife over the course of a leisurely meal and still be able to be drive responsibly at the end of the evening.

The waiter opened and carefully decanted the bottle at our table. There was a bit of sediment which was easily kept in the bottle without wasting much wine at all. The wine was bright ruby in color. It wasn’t opaque, or even especially dark, but it did leave pigmented legs on the sides of the decanter and glasses. Decanting was necessary to separate the wine from the sediment, but not to open up the aromas and flavors. They were raring to go.

The nose was outgoing and full of spicy cherry, cedar, dry green herb, and chocolate cake with coffee icing. The aromas didn’t change much over time, though the prominent cedar wood softened to more of a wood pencil intensity. The body was silky with integrated tannins and enough acidity to make it an excellent match for meat dishes. The flavors were very similar to the aromas. Cherry was more dominant though and both the spice and cedar dialed back a bit.

The 2000 Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley went very well with both a rare filet of beef on sauteed kale and Wente’s signature dish, house-smoked and seared pork chop. The chop was served with creamy blue cheese polenta. The 2000 Far Niente is in its prime right now, though it will certainly hold for several years and may even improve slightly over the next two. [It is a sharp contrast to the 2000 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select we reviewed recently and found to need more time in bottle and/or significant decanting.] Drink now through 2015. Highly Recommended.

2000-Far-Niente-Cab

2000 Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Rating: Highly Recommended
Drink: Now through 2015

Retail Price: 
$175 now in the Far Niente online store
Blend: 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc

Aging: 20 months in 100% French oak, 80% new
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Cork

The wine reviewed was purchased at release for my cellar.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it! Icons for popular sharing services are at the right above and also below.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check outour comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2010 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.