WineSmith Lake County Cabernet Franc 3-Pack
Sold by: Winston Winery
$64.99 $138.00 53% off List Price
2010 WineSmith Cabernet Franc, Lake County
It’s back! I am just now releasing my 2010 and decided to debut it here on woot. Ever since back in May when you wooters bought out the entire 2008 vintage in a single day, WineSmith Cabernet Franc has been out of stock.
This gap was partly due to the fact that since the recession kicked me to the curb for a while and accordingly, Jake Stephens sold the entire 2009 harvest as grapes, I missed that vintage. Despite the need for supply, the 2010, like previous vintages, took forever to come around in old wood.
Here it is, finally. I am particularly proud of this vintage. Generally my Cab Franc, by virtue of its blending with Merlot, resembles a St. Emillion, but this one is pure Graves, with a tobacco complexity I rarely get.
An additional dimension owes to a winemaking trick I employed. I was fortunate enough to have a single barrel go through a Brettanomyces incursion. I sterile filtered this into the blend, producing a subliminal fois gras element to the nose that I find very sexy and very French.
This vintage is a little silkier than you are used to from previous vintages, but still very much in line with my balanced, elegant Bordeaux style.
Still working on notes for the '10 to follow…
The short version?
Just buy this and not be disappointed.
2010 WineSmith Cabernet Franc, Lake County
Disclosure: I’ve been battling a head cold approaching two weeks, and as such find any objective tasting most difficult. Normally I’d also have a few co-workers help, but work schedules has also prevented their help, despite a decanter of this sitting my my office waiting for tasters… Alas, work got in the way the past two evenings.
First, this is ~not~ the 2010 Roman Reserve! Far from it.
As mentioned above, some was decanted for a few hours on Wednesday, but as we were unable to taste, it was returned to the bottle.
Color is a nice clear garnet, and the cork looks like it was just used yesterday showing only the faintest pigmentation.
Poured this evening @ 16.5C around 20:15 when I arrived home, the nose, to my nose is pretty reserved but is showing some red fruits, a bit of barrel and something greenish, and (thankfully) not the bell pepper one may expect.
Entry is tart, but pleasingly so, and filling side to side. Tannins that are present are refined and not at all coarse. Fruit is there, but not at all extracted, and plays well with something I can’t yet describe, a complexity I’m not accustomed to in a CF. A kind of funky-ness I can’t quite describe, but find myself enjoying. The label states 12.3% AbV and I can well believe it; absolutely no ethanol jumping out to mess things up. Wondering if Clark adjusted this. Well done if so.
Finish is long and evolving and keeps me interested.
I’ve now been tasting, and drinking, for nearly two hours and haven’t lost interest, but still can’t really figure this one out; it’s just not a typical CF as I’ve had them in the past.
I had this with pasta and a basil pesto sauce with lamb and garlic meat balls with some grated Ossau-iraty sheep’s milk cheese on top; what a great pairing, even to a challenged palate/nose.
Still, while not listed as first sucker, I hit the yellow button early and waited, waited, waited, for confirmation.
 Just read Clark’s notes; Merlot and Brett!
No wonder I was having difficulty.
I’m sensitive to brett, generally in an unkind way (recall some 2009 unnamed CS) and this is not that Brett bomb.
I managed to finally snag an order after the gears ground for a full three minutes.
Thanks, Clark, looking forward to it!
Edit: First Sucker too!
I’ve had a bit of wine tonite, but I think I’m likely not the only one a bit confused by the features section…
2008 - 3 pack then:
Then the description kind of repeats itself…
I’ll assume some copy editing is underway.
I thought they were 08’s at first too. Got excited and saw they were 2010. No offense. Just let down…I’ll sit and think on it. I love cab francs, typically 100%. Im just not sure about the Merlot blended in the 2010 vintage.
Yes, sorry for the confusion. I’ve edited my initial confusing remarks to clarify. Thanks for letting me know. Unfortunately the 2008 is gone gone gone, but I like this new vintage as much or more.
This is a pretty good point to discuss. Cabernet Franc expresses more diversity of terroir characteristics than perhaps any other red grape (for whites, I’d say the same for Viognier). For this reason, I think it’s one of those grapes for which there is a downside to focusing on varietal purity. If we were talking Pinot Noir or Riesling, my answer would be different.
I often observe that it would be truly silly to set up a blind tasting of French Cab Franc and throw Chinon, St. Emillion and Graves together without specifying the appellations. Loire CFs, with their lean, masculine demeanor and steely acidity, are diametrically opposed to the warm, gracious, generously feminine wines of Bordeaux’s left bank.
I think it’s the best idea for a winemaker to make 100% pure CF in the first years when she’s getting to know a vineyard, and that’s what I did. But my prejudice is for something more integrated than I was getting. I find that the rich grenadine aromas, dense solid tannins and the lanolin elements that comprise Diamond Ridge Merlot just dovetail perfectly with the CF’s wild energy, fine-grained tannins and bright white cherry aromas.
After a few vintages, I just decided to abandon the science experiment and make the best wine, concentrating on expressing the vineyard’s character through a blend of varietals.
In the past, I have always had to blend Cab Francs from different vineyards to create a complete wine. For example in 2006 I blended the fruity, Grenache-like Ramazotti, which had little structure, with the remorselessly tannic Blue Rock off serpentine soils toxic to grapevines, in order to frame the Ramazotti. So here I had varietal purity but not vineyard purity.
In my old age, I’ve come around to Randall Grahm’s point of view, that the higher calling is the expression of the place. I am very pleased to be able to do this at Diamond Ridge, which is the only complete terroir I’ve found in 23 years of searching all over California.
BTW, there are complete terroir for CF in Colorado, Virginia, and particularly in southern New Jersey.
Faux notes posted top of thread, and I’ll try again Friday with the co-workers.
Wow interesting to hear you mention South NJ, I visit there often but never really gave the wine a chance…
Bummer, no shipping to CT. This is why I rarely look at wine here – so few of them are shipped to CT.
Yay! My first lab rattage!
The short verdict is: this wine is delicious.
I don’t have the world’s greatest palate, and I’ll say there was a lot going on with this wine that I couldn’t put a name on, though they’re flavors I’ve had before.
It has a really pretty nose, with red fruits, some of that what people probably describe as leather/spice
Flavor wise it reflects the nose, lots of red fruits up front, I thought strawberry jam, some green notes maybe, and a nice amount of tannin. Certainly not overwhelming, actually very well integrated. I also liked the acidity level, it worked well with and without food. All in all, probably my first USA cab franc I’ve had that I really loved! Definitely picking up a set!
Upon tasting again 12 hours or so after opening, I think I’m getting more of the other flavors, like leather/green notes - so much going on!
Can’t say enough good things about Clark’s wines and Cab Franc is his specialty. Happy to add another vintage to my cellar, thanks Clark and WD!
The last Clark Smith CF we drank was a 2007. I wish I had better notes; all I have is that we absolutely loved it. We gave it a 9.3 on our Delectable page. We’ll certainly be needing some of this, the only question is how much?
Have two bottles left of the 2007. Missed the 2008. So, I’m in for 3!
This is one of my favorite CFs, and I’ve yet to have a bad experience with anything 'Smithed. Always interesting, and the extra time spent aging and perfecting is time very well spent.
Clark - Have enjoyed watching the tasting videos you have made of your wines on YouTube. Just curious if you will be making one for your newly released Cab Franc?
Btw of course I’ll be hitting the buy button on this one!
The place to check out is Hawk Haven Vineyard in Cape May. Todd Wuerker is doing wonderful work there, and his CF is really stunning. Also don’t miss his Quill, a Meritage blend. Good whites, too, particularly the Albarino. The whites are crisp and minerally, even the Viognier.
Just call us at the winery. We can ship to a lot more states than woot, CT included. Sandra is available from 9 AM to 4 PM Pacific time at 707-332-0056. Assorts with other offerings for discounts and free shipping.
An excellent description – much thanks.
A couple of notes on your notes. That palate energy in the finish that seems like acidity is actually something we call minerality. We actually don’t know chemically what it is, but it shows up in wines grown on volcanic soils or (as in my Faux Chablis) living soils with a healthy mycorrhizal fungi population.
I wrote a whole chapter in Postmodern Winemaking on this subject, which we are researching through an international working group. Whatever minerality is, it imparts to wines a long, flat ageing trajectory, so they take a long time to open up but have incredible longevity potential. Cab Franc expresses minerality more than perhaps any other red (Roussanne is the champ for whites).
With Cab Franc, it’s important to distinguish your green notes. This variety always provides a triangle of aromas: red fruit, spice (cinnamon, clove, or cardomom), and herb, which might be sage, rosemary or basil. These are the aromas we treasure.
Bell pepper veggies, on the other hand, are an artifact of shaded fruit - just bad farming. Cab Franc is particularly susceptible, since it is a very vigorous weed and tends to shade itself.
Diamond Ridge works so well because its poor, raocky granitic soils amp up the minerality while restricting canopy growth. The thin, fog-free air at the vineyard’s 2200 foot altitude provides lots of UV, which dispels the veggies and encourages color and fruity aromas. The proximity to Clear Lake takes the temperatures down in the afternoon, preventing raisining and retaining aromatics.
It’s really an ideal spot for this variety.