2006 Cabernet Franc
California: Napa Valley: Mt. Veeder
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Mission Codename: Randomonomy
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: 2006 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 – Dark ruby hues, with a darkening heart of dark garnet. The color of the wine remains deeply concentrated, right out to the edge of the glass. After you swirly this fast-moving wine, chubby tears, stained the color of the wine, run slowly down the inside of the glass.
Smell – Dark bold plum, blackberry and cherry leap out of the glass. These are joined closely by soft cedar, brown spice and a touch of violet, raspberry and tomato stems.
Feel – Initially cool, then quickly grippy, revealing a balanced full-body that fills the mouth as an easy dryness spreads from the tongue to the lips and cheeks.
Taste – Ripe blackberry and dark plum at first sip, with cocoa, cedar and raspberry soon after. After some swirling, additional flavors of soft clove, toasty oak and burnt vanilla round out the palate.
Finish – Great structure on the palate, leads to a long and dark-flavored finish that moves from fruit to spice, then ends with a softly dry mineral feel that encourages you to take another loving sip from your glass
Overall – We have always been enamored with Bill’s wines – and today’s is no exception. This 2006 Cabernet Franc comes from his family vineyards, high above the Napa Valley, atop Mt. Veeder. This is a region well known for producing some of Napa’s most sought-after and impressive Cabernets of all time. Bill’s Franc, year after year, is an impressive wine that expresses the very best characteristics of the Mt. Veeder appellation. Today’s wine is crafted in a bold but balanced style, with both rich and austere flavors and aromas – and a feel that is interesting and dynamic. Bill’s Cabernet Franc, like the man himself, is slightly quirky, but always charming and a great pleasure to get to know!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Bill Hawley
WINE EDUCATION: Bill graduated with honors with a degree in poetry from Sonoma State College in 1974. His senior project focused on the influence of Zen Buddhism on the poetry of the San Francisco renaissance and the Beats. He met Phil Coturri studying poetry at college and was inspired by him and
his brother Tony in the cult of winemaking and grapegrowing. He has taken courses in winemaking and viticulture at UC Davis extension, Napa College, and Santa Rosa Junior College. He has traveled to many wine regions to study winemaking and surfing, including France (Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhone, Languedoc, Champagne), Spain (Rioja), Portugal, Madeira, Chile, Baja Mexico, New Zealand, and Australia (Margaret River).
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Bill lived and worked at BR Cohn Vineyards in 1975, spending a full season on the Cohn ranch in the heart of the Sonoma Valley. He worked at Kenwood Winery in 1977 and In 1978 helped build a winery in Sonoma for Walter Benson that later became Haywood and is now Ravenswood. He then worked as vineyard manager for Chalone at Carmenet Vineyards from 1982-1988, and at the same time planted the first vines at Random Ridge.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Wine is made in the vineyard.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “Grow good grapes and get out of the way.”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 1988
AGENT RED: Greetings, Bill. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Cabernet Franc today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
BILL: It’s great to go on another mission with you, Agent Red!
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
BILL: In grapegrowing, Joe Miami, the longtime manager at Louis Martini’s Monte Rosso. In winemaking, I was very intrigued by Martin Ray at Mt. Eden and Andre Tchelistcheff at Beaulieu. Later, Dick Graff from Chalone opened my eyes wide to the pleasure of food and wine combinations.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
BILL: I make wines that suit my palate. I am not making wines for review; I am making wine for myself, my family, and my friends and that I hope reach out to kindred souls who appreciate a rich man’s wine at a poor man’s price.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
BILL: It is a true elixir from a great vintage. It is a wine that is honest and generous in flavor, that can be enjoyed now but will also reward further cellaring.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
BILL: I like it paired with meats grilled over a wood fire of Manzanita or seasoned oak barrel staves. Our local Glen Ellen restaurant Saffron has a rack of lamb with potato risotto that is also a perfect accompaniment. This wine also works well with rustic crusty bread – I love bread from Della Fattoria in Petaluma and the Downtown Bakery and Creamery in Healdsburg – and local goat cheese.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Mr. Veeder appellation so special?
BILL: It’s the elevation, inclination, climate, rocks, and volcanic soil. What’s not often talked about with grapegrowing in the mountains is that we are above the fog, and the intensity of the sunlight influences the flavors and colors of the grapes. Growing grapes up here takes a certain maverick spirit and tenacity — this is labor-intensive viticulture. We have a long growing season and the vines struggle to survive. All farming up here is a hand job.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
BILL: In the vineyard, we are hoeing, irrigating, shoot thinning, and dropping clusters that are green and behind in ripening. And preparing for harvest!
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
BILL: With a meal or without, in crystal or a mason jar, but definitely with friends and by candlelight.
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 Mt. Veeder Appellation in Napa can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
This lusty wine is terroir-driven. Reflecting the vineyard’s unique place on earth, it is immense, persistent, complex, gracious, and generous.
The characteristics of the two Bordeaux varietals are well-integrated, creating a wine that is redolent of cherry, currant, cedar, plum, licorice, and chocolate. It is muscular, lively, and hedonistic. A dominant feature is the “garrique”, a word the French use to describe spicy flavors and aromas related to anise, lavender, and sage. With 2 years of bottle conditioning and ripe tannins, this wine is good to go, but will also reward further cellaring.
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 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 – approx 14.3 alcohol
Titratable acidity: .687
Aging: 18 month barrel aged 40% new oak
Process: Cuvaison 13 days, Open top hand punchdown fermentation, Malolactic post primary
Production: Very Limited! (Total production 75 cases, 3 barrels)