WineSmith Lake County Cabernet Franc (3)

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

Greetings. I’m just returned from a month in Ireland working on my next book, and it’s good to be back wining and wooting.

It’s fair to say that my relationship with woot is founded largely on Cab Franc, particularly the series of vintages I’ve offered from this extraordinary Lake County Diamond Ridge Vineyards.

I am particularly proud of this vintage. Very much in line with my balanced, elegant Bordeaux style, but having spent 78 months in very old French oak, is a little silkier and more evolved than previous vintages. Reminiscent of pure Graves, with a tobacco complexity that I find very sexy and very French.

I’m eager to hear from those of you who have enjoyed this wine from the sales since December. There are lots of great conversation about this wine there.

As always, contact us if your state is not listed, or to combine with other offerings, call us at 707-332-0056 or email us at:

Hi Clark! waves

Frankly, this is pretty slow action tonight for my Cab Franc, which is one of the best-selling wines that appears on wine.woot. I’m thinking - Hey, wooters are into the good life, and can be forgiven for spending Saturday Night of the Memorial Day weekend watching Disney movies with their loved ones.

I do hope nobody gets the idea this reflects on the wine, but if you have any doubt, please check out the reviews on last December’s introduction from Lab Rats rjquillin, gijose, chipgreen, and tenoreprimo.

Sounds like someone needs some cheese and crackers…To go with their whine… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Safe and Happy Memorial Day… :+1:

Thank You To All That Server🇺🇸

I have a bottle of Two Jakes yet to try and will await these beauties before having a tasting with friends.

Also… Jazz in the park is starting up for the summer and it’s time stock up on supplies.

So many reasons to buy this wine! Cheers and thank you Clark.

I’m in for one.

I’m not a fan of California cab franc generally - too much alcohol and tannin IMO, but I love Bourgueil so maybe this will be more in line with what I like.

Clark, pls ck ur email.

There are a lot of things operating here. To begin with, no other red grape varies from one terroir to the next as does Cabernet Franc. California and France are so big that it’s a little silly to generalize, but we can say that California air is drier and most of the vineyards are irrigated. California is also limited in its sun exposure because its latitude give it shorter summer days.

The dry air means that when phenolic maturity happens, more water will have evaporated, so the sugars will be higher in the fruit and thus the wines will have more alcohol unless something is done. Personally, I put a water hose in the tank and bring the brix down, replacing this evaporated water. The other reason this is a good idea is that the anthocyanins that color our red wines and are critical to texture are not well extracted at high alcohol.

California winemakers mostly do not understand how Cabernet Franc works. It is nothing like Cabernet Sauvignon. With the latter, they have come to softening the tannins and diminishing the bell pepper pyrazines by extended hang time on the vine. This raisining strategy does not work with Cab Franc, and you end up with sharp, grainy tannins, poor color and hot flavors.

This Lake County vineyard has a lot more sunlight due to its high altitude, and its volcanic soil challenges Cab Franc to put its energy into root development rather than canopy, so the fruit is much less shaded. This can be problematic for the fruit aromas, which can boil off, but Diamond Ridge is right next to Clear Lake and receives a cooling lake effect every afternoon which preserves aromatics and protects against raisining.

I use a few more tricks to control the graininess of the tannins. First of all, I ferment with a lot of Merlot skins, which bring a feminine fatness as in St. Emillion. But the best cure is simply age, so this one was left in twenty-year-old barrels for 78 months to smooth it out.

I have to be honest - I wouldn’t compare this wine to Bourguiel. It’s really more of a Graves like La Mission Haut Brion. It doesn’t have the piercing acidity of the Loire, and its tannic structure is still firm.

If you like Chinon and Bourguiel, stick around and try my 2014 St. Laurent, which has wonderfully soft, pillowy tannins and ample acidity. Like Loire wines, people either love or hate the style - no in between, but in your case, I recommend giving this fascinating Austrian grape a try.

Things go better with Clark! :wink:

OK - I’m intrigued. In for 2. Appreciate it tremendously when the winemaker spends time to offer detailed commentary on his artwork.

Thank you, John. I equally value an appreciative audience. Winemakers work very hard and reflect constantly on the thousand threads that comprise a finished wine. They would love to talk more about their work, but the Natural Wine Movement, with its ridiculous assertion that the best wines make themselves, has many scared to talk about what they do. This is crazy. Winemaking is just cooking - the ultimate slow food – and the essence of artisanality is manipulation.

Here’s an article I wrote on the subject.

I work in woot partly because I can connect with a curious and open-minded group that values my input. Thank you for being one of them.

My whole winemaking philosophy is in my book, Postmodern Winemaking, and tech sheets and videos on all my wines are also available for anyone interested in looking behind the scenes.

Of course, none of this is the point. Plenty of people just like to drink the stuff. My mother said she loves my wines but will never read the book, and that’s fine.

Thanks Clark. I also appreciate all the time and information you provide to us wooters. The more I learn about your craft the more facinated I am.

We love your Two Jakes PS and look forward to trying this CF! Cheers!

First, thanks for Clark returning with this CF, that I found I only had two bottles of.

Second, congrats to bolligra for being 3.667 seconds faster on his second first sucker of this!

With family obligations, it took me awhile to find one of my remaining bottles, still have to find the St. Laurent.

Opened awhile ago, and now tasting now for a bit, I’ve not got much to add from my earlier tasting notes except I can now really appreciate the complexity of the nose on this that I find intoxicating on it’s own. Lots of fruit and just a touch of nice funk.
Not getting the level of tartness I remember from the first tasting, but now enjoying the whole of it all better, especially the lingering finish.

Rereading Clark’s comments, I’m curious about the “fortunate” comment:

that caught my attention. I realize some houses have a persistent touch of Brett that distinguishes their style; but fortunate?
I assume sterile filtered (not your normal regime?) to insure the Brett didn’t get out of hand in the bottle.
Would appreciate additional comments.

No matter, in for some more bottles

Last Wooter to Woot: rjquillin

Thanks Clark

And maybe for the chance at connecting with an old acquaintance?

I’ve got one bottle of the Cab Franc from the WineSmith mixed offering a bit back. Considering if I want to add more to my stock.

Thanks, Ron, for your insights and your question. Working with a single vineyard, you have great natural reproducibility, as you have seen in the many vintages of this wine that you’ve sampled: always lots of bright white cherries, cinammon and very low pyrazines, a dash of sage and rosemary we get from the surrounding chaparral herbs.

The challenge with a single vineyard is to obtain broad dimensionality. The wines can be a little lacking in depth and complexity - a laser can’t make a rainbow. I learned from Charley Wagner in his early years at Caymus when he had only one vineyard, and used to break it into ten vinification lots, varying the yeast, fermentation temperature, oak selections and so forth in order to gain a symphony of flavors from a single source.

I like to strike a middle ground with this wine, and since I age for a long time (in this case six years), I look to Mother Nature to take my barrels in different directions. Since I build a big, refined tannin structure with early micro-oxygenation, my wines are capable of a lot of positive aromatic integration of these disparate flavors. I can hide a lot of Brett, and like Bordeaux Chateaux, I consider it a positive element if held in the background.

You guessed correctly that I wouldn’t want the element to become dominant in the bottle. I don’t like to sterile filter, because it harms this structure, but for this one barrel in eight, it was no problem to do just the one barrel and remove the threat. We end up with a wine with just a little funk, as you say, which makes it a little sexier than most vintages.

We should let everybody in on the joke, Mark. When he and I were kids in the early '60s at Seabreeze Junior High in Daytona Beach. I ran for student body president, stealing two CocaCola slogans for my campaign: “The Cause That Refreshes” and “Things Go Better With Clark.” As true now as then, don’t you think?

Well, the “joke” really isn’t a big secret. The whole details unfolded in this thread, but since it was not a “main page” offering it may not have garnered as much of a viewing.

Couldn’t pass this one up. And thanks to Clark for his always generous contributions of time and knowledge to this forum.