2004 Cabernet Franc
California: Napa Valley: Mt. Veeder
What We Say
FINAL AVAILABILITY ALERT:
The Wine Spies are proud to be the final source for today’s exceptional wine. Random Ridge only produced 125 cases of the wine – and we have every remaining case. Order soon, though, as we will likely sell out!
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
This is a near-perfect example of Cabernet Franc, earning it a special place in our hearts – and at our tables.
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Mission Codename: Randomicity
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Random Ridge Winery, high atop Mt. Veeder, in California’s Napa Valley. Procure all remaining cases of their incredible 2004 Cabernet Franc
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Random Ridge
Wine Subject: 2004 Cabernet Franc
Winemaker: Bill Hawley
Mt. Veeder, located on the eastern slopes of the Mayacamas range has a climate that is cooler than the valley floor below. This climate and the more difficult (less fertile) volcanic mountain soil influence the flavors of the wines from this region. Best known for Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, Mt. Veeder vineyards produce grapes of exceptional character and intensity.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – The wine has a lovely bright red-brick hue to it with very little color variation by the rim. After swirling it in the glass there is slight staining once the legs have run down.
Smell – Fragrant and pretty, this Cabernet Franc has aromas of a wonderful home cooked meal. At first sniff you get an essence of black pepper, which gradually fades away and reveals wild raspberry, cherry, soft blackberry and anise notes.
Feel – This wine has the mouthfeel of pure silk. It is soft and smooth and has beautiful texture that is seamless from beginning to end. The tannins are structured, yet very soft to create a balanced finish.
Taste – Elegant and pretty, the flavors of raspberry, a hint of tobacco, anise and spice dance across your palate. Subtle, yet well structured acidity creates for a well integrated experience.
Finish – The finish compliments the rest of the structure and flavor profile. Medium in length, raspberry and spice flavor linger on your palette long after the last sip has been taken.
Overall – The 2004 Random Ridge Cabernet Franc is a beautiful wine! It has enough tannin, structure and acidity to be enjoyed with a variety of different meats and cheeses, yet has the balance and elegance to drink on its own (many glasses I might add). This is not a bold, in your face wine. This is an “I can drink you every day, at anytime of the day” wine. The wine is delicious and very well made. I would highly recommend it!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Bill Hawley
WINE EDUCATION: According to Bill, he attended the School of hard knocks for winemaking. After receiving a degree in poetry from Sonoma State College, he met a pair of famous Italian brothers that were making home wine. We found inspiration in their wines and in their techniques and found his way to working for B. R. Cohn as a field hand in 1975, from pruning to harvest. In the late 1970’s Bill began making his own home wines and, in 1982, planted his Random Ridge vineyards.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Great wines are made in the vineyard.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: Wine is an important and precious expression of a place on the Earth
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 1988 release of Cabernet Sauvignon from Random Ridge grapes.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Bill. We are thrilled to be showing your 2004 Cabernet Franc today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
WINEMAKER: It’s great to go on another mission with you, Agent Red!
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
WINEMAKER: I really liked this guy, Martin Ray. He started Mt. Eden winery. I thought that he was fantastic. The way that he talked and the way he made wines was really unique. I was also intrigued by Andre Tchelistcheff and the work that he was doing. Andre was really the father of modern California winemaking. He was a great man and a great teacher; He was very human. I think that the wines he made at Beaulieu were about as good as the get. Later, Dick Graff was a very important person to me in terms of food and wine together.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
WINEMAKER: I am really making wines that I like. I have a very influential group of peers that do what I do. That is my real brain trust, in terms of technique and feedback. I am certainly not making wines for review. I am making it for myself, my family and my friends.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
WINEMAKER: Louis Martini once said that he liked to make rich man’s wines at poor man’s prices. I really think that this wine is a $75 wine, but I priced it to be within reach for many wine drinkers.
RED: I know that my Operatives will appreciate that. What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
WINEMAKER: I like grilled meats, like a nice pork tenderloin or a great Portuguese Espetada. You can find great recipes on Google! The wine works really well with rustic crusty bread and goat cheese.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Mt. Veeder district so special?
WINEMAKER: It’s the elevation, the climate and the volcanic soils, to be sure. What’s not often talked about with grape growing in the mountains, is the fact that we are above the fog. The intensity of the sunlight really influences the flavors and color of the grapes. Down in the lowlands, all sorts of techniques are employed to ensure that the grapes get the right amount of sunlight, including pruning and trellising. Up here, the vines just grow in the perfect way
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
WINEMAKER: Right now, I am hustling in the vineyard, cultivating, suckering [removing unwanted chutes] and weed eating. I’m getting the vines ready to go. We are in budbreak right now. We are working on the 2008 blends, preparing for bottling. It was a lean year because of the frost. We got hit pretty hard and had some crop loss. The quality was really great, we just don’t have much of it. 2008 are looking really promising!
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
WINEMAKER: I think that wine should be served at cellar temperature, and then allowing them to open up in the glass. I am not a fan of decanting, and think that you can savor the wine, right in the glass. I also recommend that wines be enjoyed with candlelight and good friends.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Random Ridge Vineyard can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
This age-worthy wine is a generous wine of immense proportion and complex character. With deep color, a lively mid-palate, fine varietal character and a long finish, this wine is loaded with red cherry licorice, cedar, coffee, vanilla and earthen notes. Hedonistic and rich, the wine is muscular, balanced and generous – even hedonistic.
Enjoy now – the wine is drinking beautifully – or cellar for an extended period for even an better experience.
About The Vineyard:
On the edge of an ancient caldera on the western border of the Mount Veeder District, Random Ridge is a 47-acre ranch that straddles the Napa and Sonoma county line at an elevation of 2300 feet. Bill Hawley built the family home with recycled materials in 1980 and planted the first vines in the spring of 1982. The vineyard is currently 10 acres densely planted with a simple vertical trellis system, yielding roughly 1.5 tons per acre. The soil is decomposed volcanics, tuff, and solid rock.
About Random Ridge:
Random Ridge produces fine wines from vineyards pioneered by the Hawley family in the Mayacamas mountains of Napa County, California. We also write poetry, surf, and practice sustainable agriculture.
Random Ridge Vineyard – On the edge of an ancient caldera on the western border of the Mount Veeder District, Random Ridge is a 47-acre ranch that straddles the Napa and Sonoma county line at an elevation of 2300 feet. Bill Hawley and his family built their home with recycled materials in 1980 and planted the first vines in the spring of 1982. The vineyard is currently 10 acres densely planted with a simple vertical trellis system. The soil is decomposed volcanics, tuff, and solid rock.
Sonoma County Vineyards – We share-crop select vineyards in the Sonoma Valley, including the 100 year old vines from the Santinamaria Vineyard in an ancient riverbed, which are head trained and dry farmed.
Who buys our grapes? Although most of the Random Ridge vineyard grapes are used for making our own wines, we also sell grapes to Wellington Vineyard, which it uses to produce a Random Ridge Vineyard designate Cabernet Sauvignon and a Casa Santinamaria Sonoma Valley Zinfandel. Peter and John Wellington are old friends and collaborators of ours whose excellent wines consistently rate very highly in wine competitions and reviews.
Random Ridge produces wines in very limited quantities from vines meticulously maintained to reflect the essence of the soils in which they grow.
We are farmers first but will surf anytime anywhere. Our dedication in the vineyards naturally segues into traditional winemaking practices in the cellar.
We strive to enable the fruit to develop its inherent Buddha nature to become wine of complexity harmony & passion.
Varietals: 93% Cabernet Franc, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley
Alcohol: table wine (7-14%; estimate 13.8%)
Aging: 2 years in barrel
Process: Unfined, Unfiltered
Production: 125 Cases