Clos du Bois

2006 Sonoma Reserve Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc •Braccialini Cabernet Franc

California: Sonoma County: Alexander Valley

Offer Expired:Apr 30, 2010 at 11:59 pm
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Mission Codename: Vive le Roi

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Infiltrate Clos du Bois and secure a winery-only exclusive wine for our Operatives around the world

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Clos du Bois

Wine Subject: 2006 Sonoma Reserve Alexander Valley Cabernet Franc

Winemaker: Erik Olsen

Backgrounder: Cabernet Franc is one of Agent Red’s favorite red varietals. Perhaps this is because its flavors are often rich, layered, complex and elegant. Or, perhaps he loves Cabernet Franc so much because it pairs so exceptionally well with so many different foods. Agent Red recently returned to Clos du Bois winery, where his mole there has been providing a trickle of winery-exclusive, limited-production wines that are unavailable to the general wine drinking populace. Read Red’s tasting notes and mission report below

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Deep and gorgeous ruby red, the wine maintains deep concentration of color, right out to the very edge of the wine. There, a fine pink line shimmers in the light as the wine is swirled. On settling, skinny legs dash down the glass.

Smell – Blackfruit is the obvious leader on the nose, with vibrant blackberry, plum, and blueberry. These intermingle with dark, dried flower petals, and dark cherry. Underneath, soft and salty dried meats, subtle green chili pepper and hints of oak and Christmas spice peer out.

Feel – Tender and velvet smooth on entry. Then, gradually, the wine goes softly dry as integrated tannins easy their way inward from the edges of the palate.

Taste – In fun juxtaposition to the dark nose of the wine, the palate exudes redness, with raspberry, young strawberry, dried red rose petals and dark cherry. Also present are soft brown spices, dark chocolate and a hint of freshly cracked black pepper

Finish – Long and flavorful, with red fruit and a minerality that comes from the subtle black pepper flavor

Conclusion – We are proud to be able to reach into the private reserves of our featured wineries. Today’s Reserve Cabernet Franc is a fantastic wine that isn’t available in stores – just right here, today only! As many of our Operatives know, Cab Franc is my favorite single-varietal red. To me, great Franc shows the best balance, flavor and meal-friendliness. Today’s wine is quite compelling, with its black nose and red palate in balanced opposition to one another. Overall, the wine is balanced, delicious and fun to drink. Enjoy it on its own, or with almost anything. I found a fresh pesto lasagna to be a great fit.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Erik Olsen

DATE OF BIRTH: June 1965

PLACE OF BIRTH: San Francisco, California

WINE EDUCATION: BS Fermentation Science from UC Davis; MS Food Science from Cornell University; MBA from University of Washington

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: 2003 – present : Clos du Bois ; 1993-2003 : Chateau Ste. Michelle; 1990 – 1993: Simi

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: My philosophy is to create wines that not only represent the best each varietal has to offer, but also the best representation of the place where the grapes come from. I believe in producing delicious wines that are approachable, elegant and always invite a second glass, or a second bottle.

SIGNATURE VARIETALS: Chardonnay and Cabernet

CAREER HIGHLIGHT: 2005 Calcaire Chardonnay winning the Sonoma Harvest Fair Grand Sweepstakes. It the academy awards of wine for us in Sonoma County.

CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Number One-ranked white wine on the 2001 Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of the Year for the 1999 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Vineyard Chardonnay (93 points).

WINEMAKER QUOTE: “I like the creativity and seasonality of wine,” Erik says. “I enjoy a challenge and the fact that every year is different. It’s also inspiring to work with passionate people who come together, always trying to make something better.”

“I pinch myself everyday as I drive to work, because not only is Sonoma County an unbelievably beautiful place, the vineyards here provide everything you could ever want to make distinctive and delicious wines”.


AGENT RED: Greetings, Erik. We are thrilled to be showing your 06 Sonoma Reserve Alexander Valley Old Vine Zinfandel today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

ERIK OLSEN: Of course!

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

ERIK: I was only 18, but I landed a crush job back at a very small Zinfandel producer in the Foothills of Amador County. I did a lot of backbreaking work dumping grapes, running the press, and digging out fermentors. It was very satisfying to work hard and contribute to the creation of a beautiful wine. Winemaking still seems like magic to me.

RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?

ERIK: Every part of my background has been important in developing how I approach winemaking. UC Davis was the foundation, but I always looked to work at wineries where I could learn and those that focused on always striving for higher quality.

RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?

ERIK: My philosophy is to create wines that not only represent the best each varietal has to offer, but also the best representation of the place where the grapes come from. I believe in producing delicious wines that are approachable, elegant and always invite a second glass, or a second bottle.

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

ERIK: I’ve always believed my winemaking style is influenced in some way by every wine I’ve ever tasted. My collective wine tasting experience is what I look to in approaching a new wine. There have been some notable winemakers who taught me a lot about style and quality and had a major influence on my winemaking.

Ernie Loosen (Dr. Loosen- Germany) was very influential in my approach to making Riesling as together we create the Eroica Riesling program in Washington.

Mike Januik who I worked for at Chateau Ste. Michelle in making flavorful, soft, and approachable red wines.

Zelma Long (Simi) for a quality approach in making barrel-fermented Chardonnay.

RED: How long have you been making wine?

ERIK: I have made wine nearly every year since 1983.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

ERIK: I make wine for people looking for a great bottle of wine that consistently delivers exceptional value. I’m thrilled to make one of the most popular Chardonnays in the country, as well as very small lots that show off some of the little niche varietals and vineyards we have at Clos du Bois. Of course, I love all my wines and drink them at home often, so I also make wines for myself.

RED: Tell me, what makes the Alexander Valley so special?

ERIK: This region has the rare combination of climate and soil type that is ideal for flavor development of wine grapes. The cool evenings and warm days that are characteristic of Alexander Valley, preserve the freshness and acidity of the grapes, but also allow for ideal ripening and flavors development. The soil types found throughout the valley provide the nutrients, and water-holding capacity that allow wine grapes to thrive. With these perfect conditions, the dedicated and quality-focused growers of this area produce wine grapes that are truly exceptional in quality.

RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?

ERIK: There is no one best path to becoming a successful winemaker.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

ERIK: We have been working on trial blends of our 2008 red reserve wines including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo, Petite Sirah, Malbec, and Carignane.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today

ERIK: The 2006 Cabernet Franc has a deep dark color, aromas of ripe blackberry, bright Bing cherry, and hints of leafiness and spicy oak. The wine is richer and more concentrated then a typical Cabernet Franc. The wine is full bodied with a velvety texture, flavors of black cherry, dark chocolate, and roasted espresso.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

ERIK: Grilled Tri Tip and scalloped potatoes

RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know

ERIK: I’m a first-generation American.

RED: What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?

ERIK: There’s always a Clos du Bois North Coast Chardonnay in my fridge.

RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?

ERIK: Be comfortable with what you like. Don’t get hung up on what others think about a wine you enjoy. If you like it, then it’s a good wine. Most importantly, experiment with wines. Our Chardonnay and Cabernet are both very popular, but we have a whole host of other varietals ranging from Pinot Grigio and Riesling to Zinfandel and Shiraz. Trying something new might just introduce you to a new favorite wine.

RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?

ERIK: Trimbach -Clos Sainte Hune Riesling from Alsace.

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

ERIK: Thank you for featuring this wine. We’re proud of it and hope you enjoy it.

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Clos du Bois winery can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

About This Wine:

Deep ruby red in color, ripe blackberry and slight hint of leafiness typical of the variety, bright bing cherry, aromas of oak spice, rich and concentrated, full bodied, nice velvety texture, dark chocolate and roasted espresso, and long finish.

The 2006 Growing Season: The 2006 growing season began slowly, with temperatures cooler than normal. As summer approached, temperatures heated up, culminating with a heat spike in July that spurred development and balanced the season’s earlier, cool conditions. Moving towards harvest, beautifully temperate weather created a longer growing season and encouraged full development of flavor and color concentration in the fruit. This extended hang time was enhanced by a sunny, breezy and dry ripening period, allowing for an evenly paced harvest.

Winemaking: Fermented on skins until dry (8 days) in a stainless steel tank, pumpover 3 times per day. Drain & press to barrels to undergo Malolactic fermentation in barrels (approximately 2 months). Clean rack barrel to barrel when malolactic complete for further aging in barrels.

About The Winery:

With warm sun and cool breezes in just the right measure, and exceptionally diverse soil types, the beautiful, 20-mile-long basin known as the Alexander Valley is a winemaker’s paradise — and our home. Just over an hour north of San Francisco, in northern Sonoma County, Clos du Bois proudly carries on an Alexander Valley winemaking tradition that, for us, stretches back more than 30 years. A tradition of the highest quality grapes and the finest round, supple wines. A tradition you can taste in every bottle of Clos du Bois.


Clos du Bois crafted its first vintage in 1974 from 520 acres of grapes in Sonoma County’s then little-known Alexander Valley. Since that time the Alexander Valley has become one of the world’s most prestigious wine producing regions. Clos du Bois has also become one of the region’s most renowned wineries, famous for elegant, soft and approachable wines.

All the French you need to know: The name, in case you wondered, reportedly originates from founder Frank Woods’ plan to name the new winery “Woods Vineyard.” His children, who were studying French at the time, suggested the more exotic “Clos du Bois” instead, which loosely translates to “enclosure in the woods.”

First releases: The winery’s premier releases in 1974 featured the Classic Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, along with a proprietor’s reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. We introduced the Vineyard Designates program in 1978 with our red Bordeaux-style blend, Marlstone and Briarcrest. The whites, Calcaire and Flintwood, joined the series in 1979 and 1980.

Round out the Classics: We added Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc to the Sonoma County Classic tier in the 1980s. Zinfandel rounded out that series in the early 1990s as the first wine added to the portfolio after the winery moved to its current Alexander Valley location, just outside the tiny town of Geyserville.

Explore an Appellation: In the 1990s we created our special Appellation Reserve Series to explore the taste subtleties of particular wine growing regions — or appellations. That series launched with our Alexander Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon in 1994, followed over the next three years by the Alexander Valley Reserve Chardonnay, Merlot, Shiraz, and Tempranillo. The Dry Creek Valley Reserve Zinfandel and Russian River Valley Pinot Noir completed the series in 2002.

Changing of the Guard: In June 2003 Clos du Bois entered an exciting new era when esteemed winemaker Erik Olsen joined our winery family. Erik’s extraordinary resume and years of award-winning experience have already made their mark on Clos du Bois. We invite you to taste our latest vintages to find out for yourself.

The Exploration Continues: Since 2000, Clos du Bois has released the Russian River Valley Reserve Pinot Noir, Dry Creek Valley Reserve Zinfandel, Alexander Valley Reserve Shiraz and Classic Shiraz. The Tasting Room has offered visitors access to the winery-exclusive Alexander Valley Reserve Fume Blanc and Malvasia Bianca. Our Reserve Chardonnay is now sourced from the Russian River Valley, bringing a stylish new flavor profile to this wine. And all of our wines — from Classics to Marlstone — sport elegant new labels, a mark of the continued refinement of our winemaking style.

Introducing the Proprietary Series: Perhaps Erik’s biggest influence thus far has been the shift in our upper tier wines. Isolating vineyards from the Winemakers Reserve and Vineyard Designate winemaking programs to create a new Reserve Tier — the Proprietary Series — has elevated Marlstone, Briarcrest and Calcaire to new achievements in winemaking. Richer, fuller, more intense. Expect great things from the upcoming vintages of these wines.

About The Winemaker:

Erik Olsen came to Clos du Bois with a truly remarkable resume. He earned a BS in Fermentation Science from UC Davis, an MS in Food Science from Cornell University and an MBA from the University of Washington, giving him that rare background of both technical and business training. And for almost two decades — with time out for a graduate research position at Cornell — he has crafted wine at some of the most prominent wineries in California and Washington, including Robert Mondavi, Simi and Chateau Ste. Michelle.

Technical Analysis:

Winemaker: Erik Olsen

Varietal Composition: 76% Cabernet Franc, 24% Cabernet sauvignon

Vineyard Composition: 100% Alexander Valley

Grower Recognition: BRACCIALINI Cabernet Franc

Harvest Dates: 9-23-06

Brix: 25.5

Time in Barrel: 15 months

Oak: French, 52% New Oak 47% Used Oak

Acid/pH: 5.9 / 3,57

Alcohol: 14.5%

Cases Produced: 400

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