2014 Cabernet Franc, Clements Hills, Lodi
Huckleberry, Caramelized Fig, Sage
Age 5-7 years
- Hand harvested in the early morning cool on October 4, 2014
- Five days of cold soaking to enhance color and aromatics
- Twelve days of whole-berry fermentation in one open-top stainless steel tank
- The cap was punched down by hand two to three times daily for maximum flavor extraction
- Aged for seventeen months in French oak barrels (40% new)
- Racked twice to promote flavor development and help soften tannins
- Final blend determined by a judicious barrel selection
George Troquato, Winemaker
Alejandro Aldama, Cellar Master
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 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.
In early 2014, most California winemakers fretted over the possibility of a third consecutive drought year, but ultimately celebrated an outstanding vintage. January brought dry, seasonable temperatures and February saw one storm but the relief was short-lived. Budbreak in March was up to three weeks early while a cool April throttled growth. Bloom in May and berry set in June were favorable as conditions remained warm, clear, and accelerated. Veraison, the onset of ripening, occurred in mid-July; early August was quite warm, but a return to cooler temperatures slowed development and allowed the formation of deep colors and flavors. The early harvest had average-sized yields, but the consistent weather produced stellar wines despite the drought.