von Strasser Winery
2006 Marcellini Franc
Cabernet Franc •Marcellini Vineyard
California: Napa Valley: Diamond Mountain
What We Say
Top Cab Franc
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
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Mission Codename: Five Diamond
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Locate and procure a Diamond District Cabernet Franc that embodies the best that the unique region has to offer
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: von Strasser Winery
Wine Subject: 2006 Marcellini Vineyard Cabernet Franc – Diamond Mountain District
Winemaker: Rudy von Strasser
Backgrounder: Best known for its exceptional Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon, von Strasser Winery in Napa Valley’s scenic Calistoga, is a Wine Spies favorite!
Today we are proud to feature their extraordinary 2006 Diamond Mountain Cabernet Franc made from 24 year old vines from the fabled Marcellini Vineyard.
The Diamond Mountain District AVA (American Viticultural Area) sits at the northern most tip of the Napa Valley, in the Mayacamas Mountains. The higher elevation of the region sees more didrect sunlight and less cooling that the rest of the valley, leading to the production of some of the most concentrated and delicious Cabernet Sauvignon in the entire Napa Valley.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark plum skin with perfect clarity through its darkening heart. At the edge of the wine a fine rim of ruby red rings the glass. When the wine settles – after a good swirl – tight clusters of skinny legs take a long time to emerge, before they streak down the glass.
Smell – Layers of aromas rush to greet you, leading off with earthen sage, then bramble, blackberry, pencil shavings, plum and darkest black cherry.
Feel – Light and cool on the initial attack, then softly grippy as integrated tannins very slowly grip in, eventually leading to an around-the-mouth dryness – with a hint of minerality.
Taste – Tart black plum, overripe blackberry, cassis, tart dried cranberry and leather are followed by more subtle flavors of tobacco leaf, soft sweetwoods, minerals, soft dark spice and dusty bramble.
Finish – Very long and clean, with flavors that evolve in your mouth before they gradually tail off. Soft spice and dark minerals at the very end, with a hint of just-burnt candied fig.
Conclusion – For me, Cabernet Franc plus von Strasser plus Diamond Mountain = Perfection. Of all red wine varietals, I enjoy beautifully done Cab Franc best of all, and Rudy von Strasser really delivers with his 2006 Marcinelli Vineyard Cabernet Franc. Elegant, delicious, long on flavors and big aromatics, this wine presents everything in great balance. If you shy away from the sometimes vegital character on Cab Franc, be assured that you won’t find it in this wine. There are high notes of tart fruit, and some sage, but none of the bell pepper that some people shy away from. With its bright acidity,this cab franc is a great companion to most foods. We paired ours with shredded pork tacos and hot salsa. This Franc was a refreshing compliment to a challenging meal. Thank you, Rudy, for another wine… perfectly done!
While my life is almost completely consumed with wine, I do have other interests. One of them is treasure hunting.
I am constantly receiving intel for my assets around the wine industry – and sometimes that intel has noting to do with wine.
Recently, I received a report that the world famous Diamond District, in the norther tip of the Napa Valley, was so named because a cache of stolen diamonds was buried high up in the Mayacams mountains, among some of the fines Cabernet grapes known to humankind.
This report included clues to the specific whereabouts of the diamonds, valued at an estimated $5 million. My source provided a map, general coordinates and a few old photographs from the 1920’s. I agreed to a 50/50 split and set of to Napa.
Once up in the Mayacamas, a gorgeous vine-covered region at the northern tip of the Napa Valley. Juggling the old photos and my portable GPS, I managed to make my way what was almost certainly the right vicinity.
An open wine glass? Up here? My Wine Spies PDA is never wrong, and that alert was difficult to believe. Utilizing the PDA’s direction finder, I made my way toward the wine. I made my way down a vineyard row, turned a corner – and witnessed a remarkable sight: A small table with a white tablecloth with a single glass of wine atop it!
I approached the table and saw that its surface was strewn with… with… loose diamonds! My heart raced. Ignoring the note card that sat next to the wine glass, I grabbed a diamond and examined it with my jewelers loop. My heart sank. These were no diamonds. Instead, just fakes.
I stood there for a moment, stunned. Eventually, I snapped out of it and reached for the card. It read, “Agent Red. My apologies for the subterfuge. To make it up to you, I have arranged a special allocation of a very special wine for you. Sincerely, [CENSORED] – von Strasser Winery.”
This note was significant and I felt instantly better. I had been trying to infiltrate the von Strasser Winery for months. Their wines, particularly their Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, is the stuff of legend.
I grabbed up the glass, inhaled deeply, and took a sip. Heavenly.
Then, my phone rang.
“Agent Red. [REDACTED] here, from von Strasser….”
The rest is obvious, dear Operative, for today you have a unique opportunity to sample one of the best Cabs from one of the best regions – by one of Napa Valley’s best wineries.
Diamonds? Who needs diamonds, when you have a wine this good?
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The gorgeous location of the steeply sloping von Strasser vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
This beauty emulates Bordeaux. Aromas of blackberry bramble, evergreen, sage, and damp earth segue into flavors of cassis, cigar box and sarsaparilla.
About The Winery:
The von Strasser Story – With a family connection to Eric de Rothschild, Rudy wrote a letter asking to do an internship at Chateau Lafite-Rothschild. Each year the Chateau had been hiring an intern from the French winemaking program at Montpellier. Thinking that two minds are better than one, Mr. Rothschild invited Rudy to work for the 1985 harvest as their first American intern. (The result was so successful, that each year since the Chateau has chosen a new Davis graduate to work as an intern at the winery.) Rudy returned to Napa Valley in the spring of 1986 and was hired as the enologist at Trefethen Winery and Vineyards. In 1988, he became the assistant winemaker in charge of production at Newton Vineyards in St. Helena.
Shortly after their marriage in 1989, Rudy and Rita von Strasser set out looking for a vineyard property to make their home. Having already developed a deep passion and talent for producing Cabernet Sauvignon, Rudy was committed that the property must be in a microclimate blessed with the ability to grow and produce the finest red wines in Napa Valley; wines worthy to carry the von Strasser family name. Serendipitously, the old Roddis Estate Winery on Diamond Mountain had just been put on the market, and in the spring of 1990, the von Strasser label was born.
The history of the property reads like a who’s who of early California Cabernet History. After being denied a permit to turn his estate into a golf course, William Bounsall decided to subdivide his property, and in 1968 sold 1/3 of his property to Albert Brounstein. Canadian born, Al pioneered the modern decade of winemaking in this AVA by planting Cabernet Sauvignon in three distinct vineyard sites and bottling each separately under the name Diamond Creek Vineyards. The next year, 1969, Bounsall himself decided to get into the grape business and planted 2 acres to Cabernet Sauvignon with bud-wood from the famous Martha’s Vineyard. In 1978, Bill Roddis bought the Bounsall ranch and started Roddis Cellars. The wines were made by Andre Tcheistcheff, and in their days where considered by many to be the biggest wines made in the Napa Valley. In 1985, the winery was sold to the Gilby family (British gin), who used it as a corporate retreat. The vineyards, now totaling about 7 acres, were leased to Pine Ridge Winery, who bottled the grapes separately as their “Diamond Mountain” Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1990, Rudy and Rita von Strasser bought the property and began the fulfilling task of renovating and modernizing the estate and the vineyards to make the property one of the gems of Diamond Mountain.
The building that houses the winery is an historic barn that was built in the late 1880’s. Through careful planning it has been remodeled into a modern winemaking facility while retaining its working-ranch charm. To take full advantage of the hillside location and to better control the variables of winemaking, the von Strassers added caves to their property. Dug into the virgin hills, these caves retain an ideal climate for barrel aging, and average temperature of 55 degrees and an average humidity of 80%.