2006 Sonoma Valley Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc •Estate Grown

California: Sonoma County: Sonoma Valley

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Mission Codename: The Franc Affair

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Infiltrate Canihan Family Cellars and return with their delicious, limited production, Sonoma Valley Cabernet Franc.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Canihan Family Cellars

Wine Subject: 2006 Cabernet Franc

Winemaker: Alex Beloz

Winery Backgrounder: We have become big fans of Canihan Family wines. Today, Agent Red returns to Canihan and returns with their limited production Cabernet Franc. To Red, this is a double victory, as his love for the winery is matched only by his love for this delicious varietal. The Sonoma Valley AVA is one of the oldest wine growing regions in California with the first vines being planted in the early 1800s. The AVA is located along California Route 12 and its eastern boundary are the southern end of the Mayacama mountains. The unique micro-climate with less rainfall and fog than other parts of the region along with its unique soil provides ideal growing conditions for Cabernet Franc.

Varietal 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 with many different foods. One of the most notable things about Cabernet Franc is the fact that finding excellent examples can be very difficult. This explains why we have not shown a Cab Franc here in some time. Agent Red recently scoured the Napa Valley to bring you today’s exceptional selection from our old friends at St. Supery. Red Red’s tasting notes and mission report below

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Dark garnet hued, with gorgeous ruby edges that glint in the sunlight. Skinny, wine-stained legs take forever to emerge – before they march slowly down the glass.

Smell – Deeply fragrant, this wine begins with a heady rush of ripe blackberry, bramble, soft spice and warm plum. These are followed by softer notes of blueberry, black cherry and subtle mint.

Feel – Initially, this wine has a medium weight, but becomes quickly firm and solid as plush tannins seem to sink downward onto the palate.

Taste – Tart black cherry, blackberry and black plum lead the charge. These sit atop dark strawberry, bramble, cassis, tobacco, roasted espresso bean and soft oak.

Finish – Long and filled with dark flavors, this wine finally finishes dry and softly mineral-filed with black pepper, a hint of mint and soft sweetwoods.

Conclusion – The 2006 Canihan Family Cellars Cabernet Franc is a delicious and exciting wine that we have been very eager to get our hands on. It was worth the wait, it turns out, as this fantastic Franc delivers a delicious and interesting drinking experience that will please Cabernet Franc fans. This wine would pair beautifully with BBQ spareribs with loads of sauce, or a grilled steak, loaded with black pepper and an exotic salt. Bold and big, this is an exciting wine that would play best with a robust meal. Enjoy this limited-production wine now, and lay a few bottles down for the next few years, as we think that it will only continue to get even better.

Mission Report:


AGENT RED: Greetings, Alex Beloz. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Canihan Family Cabernet Franc today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

ALEX: Glad to share some info.

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

ALEX: Travels to Europe, specifically Italy, after university. Met some great families that taught me about wine appreciation. I got the wine bug right away. When I returned home I pursued a career in wine.

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

ALEX: My first crush position. There’s nothing like getting the hands-on experience.

RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?

ALEX: To make delicious, compelling wines from fruit grown under strong viticultural practices.

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

ALEX: I suppose it’s more a region, the North Coast, that has influenced me. It’s where I learned how to make wine and where I work on a daily basis.

RED: How long have you been making wine?

ALEX: About 12 years now!

RED: Who do you make wine for?

ALEX: For wine drinkers! In the end I make delicious, compelling wines that wine fans will enjoy.

RED: Tell me, what makes Bill’s vineyards so special?

ALEX: Bill’s wines are grown on a tiny vineyard in southern Sonoma. During the growing season it gets warm enough in the day to ripen fruit well and cool enough in the evenings to give the vine some respite. It’s a very ideal climate.

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

ALEX: Consider and research it well. Get plenty of hands-on experience before committing to a full-on career in winemaking. There is a lot of romance that blinds folks into pursuing such a career not knowing that there is a lot of inglorious hard work and sacrifice in making wine.

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

ALEX: Last Monday and Tuesday we bottled our 2008 vintage. Our philosophy has always been to allow our wines to fully develop in French oak barrels. Typically, we’ll barrel age for 16 months; however, the intensity of the 2008 fruit required that we allow these wines to fully develop with 6 additional months of barrel age.

At the vineyard, last fall we installed a wind machine to protect our vines (and young buds) from the potential for frost damage in April and May. Of course, because we had the frost protection this spring, it never was cold enough to require starting it up (although we did start it four times, just to be safe). At this point, our vineyard has the most fruit we’ve ever experienced, and we’ve already dropped clusters of lesser quality.

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

ALEX: Our Cabernet Franc is an elegant, sophisticated, Loire-style Cabernet Franc packed with red fruit, and spice.

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

ALEX: I love this Cabernet Franc with Filet Mignon, Rack of Lamb, venison, and steaks. It has just the right acidity to enhance these meats with sauces such as Bernase, Blue Cheese, and pepper corn.

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

ALEX: Wine is not my job. It’s my lifestyle.

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

ALEX: No favorites. I like tasty, well balanced wines of all colors, varietals and regions…but it’s got to be good!

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

ALEX: Most of my wines are nice right out the bottle. They’re always better a year out from release. However, if one has little time or patience, as we all do sometimes, I recommend my wines to be uncorked a couple hours before tasting.

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

ALEX: Corton-Charlemagne. Small production. Very pricey. Very good.

RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?

ALEX: Do you love what you do? I would respond: “I’m one of the luckiest guys on the planet!”

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!

ALEX: You bet!

What the Winery Says

Awards & Accolades:

91 PointsWine & Spirits Magazine, December 2008

About This Wine:

A fragrant nose of black currant, dark chocolate, spice, mint, and cherry fruit fold into sweet tobacco, soy and brewed espresso. The mouthfeel is smooth with medium tannins, an elegant Loire-style Cab Franc lacking the traditional gaminess quality, and is followed by a long, lingering finish.

VINEYARD NOTES: Located on the border of the Sonoma Valley and Los Carneros appellations, planted in 1998 with SO4 and 110-R rootstock, this 2.5-acre vineyard produces a cool-climate Cabernet Franc. The vineyard lies adjacent to our neighbor’s eucalyptus trees. Phil Coturri’s dry-farming, pruning techniques and biodynamic vineyard management practices such as keeping only one cluster per shoot, result in low yields of approximately one ton per acre.

WINEMAKING NOTES: Destemmed grapes were cold macerated for three days in open-top tanks before fermentation on native yeasts. The must was punched down twice daily during fermentation, allowed extended lees contact, then pressed and racked into 60-gallon French oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and barrel ageing. During 16 months in French oak barrels, the Cabernet Franc was racked only once and was not fined and only lightly filtered prior to bottling on February 13, 2008.

About The Winery:

The Canihan Family vineyards are ideally located in the Sonoma Valley, and because we border on the Los Carneros Appellation, the vineyards receive the cool evening breezes and early morning fog from San Francisco Bay that provide for perfect grape growing conditions. Biodynamic vineyard management practices, dry-farming, and hand-harvesting only at complete ripeness, fermentation with naturally occurring native yeast, and no fining or filtering result in flavorful wines expressive of our “terroir”.

Although our vineyards were first planted in 1998, we had nurtured the land for more than 30 years. William Canihan Sr. purchased the land from a Basque farmer in 1975. Because of our commitment to the land and organic practices, we let nature cleanse the soil for 23 years. We planted 1103 Paulsen, SO4, and 101-14 rootstocks, and the following spring we field grafted Pinot Noir French Dijon clones 115, 667 and 777, Syrah clone 1, and Cabernet Franc clones 4 and 7.

This year, our new four-acre Pinot Noir vineyard will yield fruit from clones including Pommard, Wadenswil (Domaine Romanee–Conti) 2a, Masson, Joseph Swan, and Hanzell.

Our vineyard manager, Phil Coturri is also currently managing the vineyards of Hanzell, Merus, Moon Mountain and Arrowood wineries. Mr. Coturri has an excellent reputation for his organic and biodynamic practices which are best judged by their results.

Technical Analysis:

Varietals: 100% Estate Grown
Certified Organic Vineyard

Harvested: October 17, 2006

Aged: 16 months in 100% French Oak

Alcohol: 14.7%

Total Acid: 0.57g/100ml

pH: 3.60

Bottled: February 2009

Production: 106 Cases

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