Cabernet Franc, the ancient father to the more popular, easier and supremely adaptable Cabernet Sauvignon, generally falls into two camps. The Old World side is led by France’s Loire and Northern-Italian style Francs which are lean, angular, black fruited, peppery and mineral with tomato leaf overtones. Most California Cab Francs (Napa in particular with that Bordeaux fixation) fall into warm climate tones of velvety purple fruit, very little bell pepper, and lots of oak. The dirty secret is that Cali-style producers pick it dead last, cooking out the pepper, adding back water and acid to the raisins. The two styles are very divergent, and Old World Cab Franc is a love or loathe proposition for many people, which is part of why we love the many myriad forms this ancient grape can take.
We planted these 120 vines in 2011 while on a bit of a random-vine adventure on an east-facing downward slope. We weren’t really sure if we were looking for blending options, or just to step outside the Italian thing, but it is always nice to have options. This particular clone of Cab Franc is popular in Northern Italy and is known for ample dark fruit, leather and low pyrazine (green bell pepper) and a direct, savory character meant for the dinner table.
The wine: unsurprisingly black fruited with black cherry tones. It has decent acidity, pretty bold structure, and a rustic Loire-style tartness and a touch of that iodine/metallic character that divides families, along with a black-rock sensibility that craves cassoulet as the rain comes down.
Label Image: We reproduce Athanasius Kircher’s depiction of subterranean volcanic energy gestating throughout the earth from 1664. Kircher’s rivers of fire were balanced by the ocean’s waters that are filtered through seabeds and heated by the fire, and then air that is drawn in by great bellowing lungs that fuel the fire. His speculative volcanology depicted a delicate sense of balance between powerful heat, water, and air, much like each year’s harvest.