When Robert Mondavi chose To Kalon Vineyard in west Oakville as the home for his new winery in 1966, he remarked that it was “a vineyard with a distinguished history and a magical nature. Ideal soils, sunlight, and rain—to my eye, the vineyard was a treasure.” Well-drained, low fertility soils, aided by optimal sun exposure, consistently yield impeccable fruit maturity and amazing quality. The 2017 is a blend of three of our finest blocks of Cabernet Franc on To Kalon®.
The 2017 harvest started early following a summer of heat spikes and a growing season that began with significant rain, ending a five-year drought. While the heat waves were a concern, retained water in the quenched soil helped us maintain vigorous vines and plump, juicy clusters through the growing season. A series of wildfires at the beginning of October made international headlines, but the early harvest ensured that the majority of our grapes were picked and already processed in the cellar before the fires began. The grapes for our Oakville-designated Cabernet Franc were picked between September 19 and September 30.
The grapes were hand-harvested and carefully sorted, first on the vine and then by individual clusters in the winery. The fruit was then destemmed and the selected grapes went directly into traditional French oak tanks for cold soak, fermentation, and extended maceration—a total of 35 days of wine-to-skin contact—maximizing the extraction of varietal character and complexity while keeping the tannins round and supple. The new wine was drained and gently pressed into 100% new French oak barrels for malolactic fermentation, assuring seamless integration of fruit and oak. The wine continued to age in-barrel following malolactic fermentation. The final blend was assembled through repeated tasting trials over the 15 months of barrel aging. Our 2017 Oakville District Cabernet Franc was bottled in August of 2019.
Beautiful ripe black cherries, dried blueberries, and whiffs of sweet pipe tobacco and earthy brown leaves dance from the glass. On the palate, the wine is vibrant, saline, warm with just a slight dusting of oak toast. Then more sweet fruit, freshly dried cherries, and just enough dried herb to say distinctly “I am Cabernet Franc.”