WineSmith Lake County Cabernet Franc (3)

WineSmith Lake County Cabernet Franc 3-Pack
$64.99 $140.00 54% off List Price
2008 WineSmith Cabernet Franc, Lake County
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2008 WineSmith Lake County Cab Franc
PnP. Light crimson in color with high clarity. Nose has a good intensity right of the pnp. Getting some herbal notes on the nose, leaning toward fresh sage. Also bright red fruit with just a touch of alc that is blowing off quickly.

Palate has medium plus acid, tart red fruit, and a spice component on the finish. Length is initially short to medium in length with medium tannin. Getting herbal notes on the palate as well, hard to place, but it reminds me of tarragon. Bottle shouldered to allow some air. About an hour later the nose is declaring itself as cab franc with an intoxicating mingled aroma of sage and cherry. The palate has picked up a slight woodiness that adds intrigue and is not the least bit off-putting.

Day 2. Nose has gained additional complexity and lost a bit of intensity from day 1. Instead of jumping out of the glass it is now drawing you in. Palate has smoothed out significantly on the entry. Today the wine is juicier with more present acid and more tannin heft as well.

This is a delicious wine that will reward the patient. Enjoyable in all phases from the PnP to late day 2, but a long decant or long term aging will only improve the experience.

Hi, gang!

This is the long-awaited first woot offering of WineSmith Cabernet Franc. I started making this variety in 1993, and have worked hard to excel in its difficult challenges. It has become a specialty of my winemaking (I make five of them, plus a lot of Meritage blends that include them). Although never as brawny as it’s child, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc is capable of much more depth and refinement.

I’ve sourced grapes all over California, plus coaching winemakers throughout the United States and a little bit in France and South Africa (there really isn’t much in Australia). Cab Franc requires a limiting soil, one that forces its high vigor into the root system and represses its tendency to shade itself, leading to vegetal aromas, poor color and the resulting grainy tannins.

More than perhaps any other red, it expresses itself utterly differently in different locations. On loamy soils, it’s very feminine, almost like Grenache, with a sweet, plummy center and very little structure. On serpentine, it can be remorselessly tannic with no fruit at all. I generally need to combine these yin and yang aspects, using the masculine structured wines to frame the fruity ones.

This 2008 is my first WineSmith CF from Diamond Ridge Vineyards. DRV is the first truly complete vineyard I have found in California, combining bright white cherry fruit with a firm tannic package and hints of rosemary. Like many CFs, it’s also extremely minerally, with an energetic nervousness in the finish which is, I think, related to its decomposed granite soil and causes the wine to age on a very long, slow trajectory. After 61 months in very neutral (20-year-old) barrels, the wine’s tannins have become silky but firm, ready to age another decade without problem, but open enough to drink now with pork and cherries or grilled duck breast.

WineSmith Lake County Cabernet Franc (3)

First sucker:** MarkDaSpark**

How did I beat RJ? :happy:

We’re working on a larger buy :tongue:

Welcome back, Clark!

How does this compare/contrast with the 2008 Diamond Ridge labeled Cab Franc that has been offered previously? I really enjoyed that wine.

Last wooter to woot: chipgreen

Yes, well, I will have to play Wine Bottle Jenga to fit these in!!! :tongue:

I’m gonna pull a Sparkles on this one. Consumed about half a bottle before passing off the remainder to Klez, iirc.

Notes: yeah, I wrote some, a couple months ago. Trifecta’s notes rather parallel my memory, if not my notes.

I find myself liking CF and have a half case of Clark’s 2006, soon to be joined by at least an equal amount of these.
Just flat out delicious, even in it’s youth. This one is going to be a keeper.

Just wanted to say nice job on this CF. my note failed to mention the great balance this wine has and the minerality on the finish.

CF is one of my favorite varietals, and I thank WD and company for introducing us to Clark and his wines. He definitely has a great understanding of this varietal.

This is part of that same lot which was given an additional two years in neutral wood and blended with 6% of DRV Petite Sirah for flesh and density. It is bigger, more refined, more nuanced and probably set to age longer, though they are both quite ageworthy. The DRV was brighter and more overtly minerally. You may have noticed the beginnings of some tertiary romano and porcini aromas in the DRV. These are richer and more evolved in this wine.

We had this at a semi-recent gathering, but the note I think got accidentally tossed. (Don’t judge me…things need to be cleaned every months or so!) I remember a few things: bright plum fruit, no pyrazines (which always makes me slightly sad, being the Canuck I am), impeccable balance, and a whole lot of structure that suggests it will age wonderfully. There were also definitely herbal notes and mineral - otherwise I would not be such a fan. Clark is a guy who knows how to treat Cab Franc right.

Sounds delicious. I really enjoy Cab Franc in general and yours, especially. These will help tide me over until you release the 2010 Cab Franc that we sampled last summer. That was some incredible juice!

2008 WineSmith Cabernet Franc, Lake County

Wow - I really enjoyed this wine! That screaming monkey really delivered with this little beaut.

Color - Ruby / brick and light around the edges.

Nose - initially a little alcohol on the nose but this completely passed with time. This needs some air to get going. On the front I get cherry with anise behind and also an earthy, leather-like note in a very enjoyable fashion with a touch of vege, perhaps celery.

Palate - this is delightfully integrated with abundant tannin, minerality and a long lingering finish that is savory, almost creamy - ramona cheese with some bell pepper and a twinge of pine. Not sweet at all.

There’s a lot going on here in a wine I really enjoyed drinking now, but would love to see how it develops with time. On that note - I’m in for a set or two.

Edit - delay in posting was as I desperately searched for my notes from a while back - think I got most of it down, but lesson learned to write this up when drunk (no pun intended).

Thanks for those very kind words.

In my view, there is an important distinction in Cab Franc between the bell pepper pyrazines and the herbal notes we’ve been discussing. To understand this distinction, it’s useful to consider how grapes evolved. To begin with, grapes are strictly for the birds. They use avian vectors to spread their seed. A berry is a seed delivery system for the gut of a bird, who will drop it in a nice plop of fertilizer miles away from the mother plant.

To get into perfect position for birds to munch them, grapes have evolved clever systems to climb trees. A tendril is a grape cluster with no berries. Grapes favor tendril production when they are down on the forest floor and shaded. Only when the reach the treetops do they make berries. They do this by responding to direct sunlight on the vine buds, which stimulates berry differentiation for the following year. Lots of other metabolic processes get turned on and off in grapes by light cues.

Grapes have very high sugar, and are highly nutritious even when at pea-size, when they are already 12 brix – half again the sugar of a ripe tomato. At that stage, when the seeds are not yet viable, they need to fool the bird into thinking the berry is a leaf or stem, by filling it with nasty vegetal pyrazines. Then as maturity takes place, these pyrazines are degraded and the berry will sweeten, soften, and acquire color and fruity flavors and other interesting nuances such as the herbal sage, tarragon and rosemary characteristic of CF. If the fruit remains in shade, the plant won’t bother with this transformation, and the fruit will remain poorly colored and full of vegie flavors.

In short, high pyrazines in CF are the result of poor farming or a site which is too rich or too wet. The more subtle herbal elements are a sign of vine balance and high quality.

One more element. Wines with poor color tend to have grainy and unstable tannins. That’s because anthocyanins act as bookend on tannin polymerization. The more color, the shorter the chains, and the finer the tannin colloids. Fine colloids not only give soft texture, they also contribute to aromatic integration and soulfulness by presenting a vastly greater interactive surface area between the phenolic colloids and the aqueous liquid around them, making it easier for volatile phenols (oak, Brett, vegie aromas) to intercalate into the wine’s structure rather than being pushed up into the nose. Finally, shorter polyphenols are more stable and less likely to precipitate out, meaning enhanced ageworthiness.

Clark, you always manage to amaze us with your knowledge.

I’ve heard you say before that pyrazines are a sign of poor sun and underripeness in CF. Even if I like a moderate dose of them :wink: So if you were to attempt to make a wine with some of that bell pepper character, would you then do more leaf thinning on some blocks than others so that some completely break down the pyrazines while others did and retained only the fruit and herbs? Would you try to ever make a wine like that?

Also…you around the weekend of July 4? Going to be in the area and maybe some wooters would gather with you again…

This man speaks my language; you wrote an excellent explanation. I decided to take a quick study break from tuberculosis and rickettsia diagnoses just to read this well thought out post and reply. I have to believe this man makes a spectacular wine - jealous of those who get to taste it!


That was a barrel sample of the Two Jakes Roman Reserve 2010 Cab Franc. It’s a really remarkable wine that was made without any sulfites. Contrary to popular belief, such wines do not oxidize - they get very reductive. Although Dan Berger selected it as among the top 100 wines in the U.S. to represent us in the Six Nations Shootout in Australia, I don’t think the wine is ready for release and am holding it back another year. It won’t be cheap, either.

There’s an interesting discussion of the topic of sulfite-free wines at

Sure, you’ve got the idea. You can control the amount with shading. California winemakers tend to be pyrazine averse (I like to call them “pyranoid”), but a lot of world class Sauvignon Blanc in Bordeaux, Sancerre and New Zealand is grown with shaded clusters to enhance distinctiveness and dimensionality.

I didn’t mean to say that pyrazines are a defect, but simply to distinguish them from Cab Franc varietal herbal features.

For myself, right now I’m fighting the perception that Cab Franc is always vegetal and getting people to understand the possibilities, so Lake County fruit is perfect for me right now. The high altitude means lots of UV and no fog, and the rocky soils challenge the vine and open it up. But as we get past that chapter, I can see an emerging interest in the kind of wine you’re talking about - a pyrazine nostalgia movement, I guess. We’re already there with the SBs.

I was planning to leave town, but now it looks like I will be here. Let’s do something. Mike Faulk (my winemaking sidekick and a terrific winemaker in his own right) will be the guy to get with to figure it out.