A complex nose of blackberry, pomegranate, cigar box, vanilla, loam, jasmine, tarragon and fresh baked bread introduces flavors of dark fruit and semisweet chocolate. The tannins are firm upon entry while the finish of dark fruit, dried flowers and toasted oak is enhanced by bright acidity, smooth texture, and a full mouthfeel.
In the USA, cabernet franc often lives in the shadows of its heftier offspring, cabernet sauvignon (co-parented by sauvignon blanc), but it secures a full share of the spotlight along the right bank of Garonne River in Bordeaux’s Saint Émilion district. The grape is also popular in other parts of Europe and the New World because it fully ripens in locations that are generally too cool for cabernet sauvignon.
Cabernet franc can function as a stand-alone varietal wine as well as a blending component for winemakers wanting to add more depth to the nose and palate of their cabernet sauvignons. It has a comparable level of intensity and richness, but it exhibits lighter colors and acidity, more aromatics, a smoother mouthfeel, and less tannin than cabernet sauvignon.
Planted in 1980, Lewis Vineyard is situated east of Lodi on the banks of the Mokelumne River in well-drained rocky red soils at 600 feet above sea level. The area is mostly dry with warm-to-hot days and cool evenings produced by regular breezes from the Sacramento River delta. The close proximity to the river maintains low overnight temperatures, resulting in bright acidity that merges with rounded tannins and full flavors in the finished wines.
Vintage 2010 produced an average size crop with full flavors and ideal acidity, but the cool year had winemakers wondering if grapes would ever ripen. Heavy rain in January and February was followed by a cold, wet March that delayed budbreak, bloom and berry set. April and May were drier, but the ripening curve remained flat under cool conditions. June, July and August saw persistent morning fog burning off to warmer afternoons. The coolness finally broke with a heat spike in late August followed by two more in September. Many vineyards were picked after the second of three storms in October with winemakers rejoicing the quality of a delayed harvest that was nearly “washed away”.