2012 Calistoga Cabernet Franc
It’s fair to say that Cabernet Franc has experienced a well-deserved renaissance in California over the last decade. Put succinctly, I think we’re doing a much better job in the vineyard and winery by allowing Cabernet Franc to be Cabernet Franc. In the Napa Valley, where the lurid temptation to plant Cabernet Sauvignon on every green acre is not only the persistent reality but also an integral part of many new business plans, the Cabernet Franc vineyards that have endured tend to be excellent. That’s certainly the case here at Chateau Montelena. Our terraced, hillside Cabernet Franc has been an integral yet unheralded component of the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon for over twenty-five years. In certain vintages, when the fruit is both exceptional and emblematic of the site and expresses the unique varietal character that distinguishes Cabernet Franc, we bottle this wine in small quantities.
Nose Garnet in color, the aromatics are both diverse and delicate. And while the nose is immensely red fruit driven with Bing cherry stealing the show, there are wonderfully distinct aromas of marzipan, lavender, and rose lurking behind.
Palate Medium in body, tobacco leaf, molasses, and dried blackberry are supported by soft, fine tannins that lend tension and subtle texture. These slowly give way to coffee bean and anise, an excellent contrast to the velvety cassis that lingers across to the finish.
Finish The finish is marked by raspberry jam and fresh acidity, testaments to the food-friendly character of this wine.
Summertime temperatures were pleasantly warm by mid-afternoon, with just a little bit of chill each morning from the fog that sneaks in from northern Knights Valley. That marine layer gives the vines a chance to ease into the day and helps preserve the acidity that remains a hallmark of this wine, especially in the dry-farmed vineyards. It’s rare to get incredible flavor development and high yields in the same year, but 2012 was definitely a bumper crop and we couldn’t have been more pleased with the power, elegance, and nuance in the fruit we harvested. The key word here is ‘balance’ – both in the vines and in the wines.