2007 'The Scrapper' Cabernet Franc
California: El Dorado County
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s Cabernet Franc is truly a wine of great distinction. With great aromas and flavors and a mouthfeel that is rich and smooth it will knock your socks off!
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Mission Codename: The Scrapper
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Visit our good friends at Vinum Cellars and retrieve their fantastic 92 Point ‘The Scrapper’ Cabernet Franc.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Vinum Cellars
Wine Subject: 2007 ‘The Scrapper’ El Dorado Hills Cabernet Franc
Winemaker: Richard Bruno
Backgrounder: The El Dorado County AVA is located in the Sierra Nevada mountain foothills and is well known for its Zinfandel crop. Increasingly though, Bordeaux and Rhone varietals are being planted. The rich volcanic soil, higher elevation and climate (similar to the Piedmont, incidentally) most influences the fruit from this relatively lesser known AVA.
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.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Beautiful dark ruby red with a clear dark purple heart. Along the edges, the color lightens slightly to brighter ruby and when swirled fast, thin legs ring the glass.
Smell – Bold and fresh dark red fruit including dark cherry, blueberry, cassis and currants are surrounded by woody oak and foresty earthy notes. Green bell pepper as well as black peppercorns add spice, subtle sweet tobacco with floral aromas bringing fresh balance.
Feel – Very smooth and supple, this full-bodied dry wine has finely textured and mouth drying tannins and minerality with a vibrant kick of acidity that lingers into the finish.
Taste – Perfectly balanced red and black cherry, along with some blueberry, cassis and plum blend with woody and vanilla oak, peppery spice and earthy forest flavors. Sweet and bittersweet mocha, soft dark minerals and savory leather adds complexity.
Finish – Long and super clean with this wine’s smooth fruit and other complex flavors gently fading, leaving behind a smooth and mouth drying texture that makes the mouth water for another sip.
Conclusion – The 2007 Vinum Cellars ‘The Scrapper’ El Dorado Hills Cabernet Franc is truly a fantastic wine. A great nose and abundant in flavor, but its smooth dry mineral and tannins along with great acidity makes this a perfect food wine. Drink this wine now or cellar for the next five years. A great steak wine!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Richard Bruno
WINE EDUCATION: Fermentation Science (Enology) from the University of California at Davis. Prior to that 12 years in San Francisco fine Dining including: Rubicon, Masa’s and Zuni Cafe. I worked with MS Larry Stone at Rubicon.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Don Sebastiani & Sons, Director of Winemaking 2001-2009 Niebaum-Coppola, Consultant 1999-2001 Tom Eddy & Associates, Consultant 1998-1999 Started Vinum Cellars, 1997 Bonny Doon Vineyard, Distiller 1996-1997 Gloria Ferrer Winery 1995, Harvest Intern 1995 Storybook Mountain Winery, Harvest Worker 1994
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: In the vineyard – To work with growers to maximize quality in the vineyard and harvest at optimal maturity. In the Winery – We use traditional winemaking practices, but use a variety of yeast strains to maximize the varietal character of each wine. As a rule, we use only French oak, but the newest barrels are second year (used once, we buy from another winery’s white program). We prefer integrated flavors, not heavy handed oak aromas or flavors.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: ”Wine is a part of a healthy lifestyle (if consumed in moderation), therefore it should be affordable.”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: June 1st, 1998
AGENT RED: Greetings, Richard. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Scrapper Cabernet Franc today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
RICHARD BRUNO: Thanks Agent Red, I am proud to offer this exceptional wine to your customers at your price, this is a tremendous value.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
RICHARD: I don’t remember the exact first time, but my mother is a wonderful cook. Not an Alice Waters, more of a Julia Child type cook; my family’s roots are from the Mid-west and East Coast. Anyway, while in High School (and playing a lot of Soccer), my mom would cook early dinners (after practice) and serve a little wine that went with the evening’s meal that she and a friend would prepare. Her friend had a great cellar and brought over a lot of cool stuff like Guigals from the 1970s, Napa Cabs from the 60s and 70s and the occassional Chateau Palmer or Margaux. I was always taken by the importance of wine’s role with a meal based on these experiences. Sometimes I wish I could go back to those days.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
RICHARD: My old boss, Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard. I was so intrigued to learn how to make Old World wines from new world grapes.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
RICHARD: I have always made wine for myself, by shunning too much oak in favor of a more European Food-Friendly style.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
RICHARD: The 2007 Scrapper Cabernet Franc is from a very special vineyard in El Dorado near Apple Orchard Hill. It is farmed by Ron Mansfield who is an accomplished grape grower but grows fresh mountain tree fruit for specialty markets such as Dean & Deluca, he is well-known for $3 peaches. His approach to grape growing is one of an open mind, by bucking traditional vine growing techniques. For example, he trains the Cabernet Franc vines as a head-trained vine rather than a typical cordon. The idea is to allow more sunlight into the canopy; which is very important with Cabernet Franc to resolve the varietal’s tendancy to be a little on the green, herbacious side.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
RICHARD: Anything you would serve with a Cabernet Sauvignon is appropriate with this wine. Grilled Filet Mignon or Rib Eye steaks with a peppercorn or bearnaise sauce. Serve it with some greens like wilted spinach, mache or a tossed arugula salad with ripe cherry tomatoes.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the El Dorado region so special?
RICHARD: El Dorado is high in elevation (1,600-2,400 feet) in the mountains providing good drainage which reduce yields. Also, vines struggle a little in hillside settings which is also beneficial to quality. Finally, the soils are red, which comes from the ferris (iron content) within the soil itself.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
RICHARD: Lately I have been busy travelling throughout our great country in support of our brand. What I am seeing is a definite up-tick in the economy. I have visited New Hampshire, Indianapolis, Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, Arizona and Florida. There are some really great restaurants in these markets, lots of interesting people doing great stuff. If you are ever in Indy, check out Recess; the chef Greg Hardesty and I actually worked together at Rubicon in San Francisco years ago and now he is doing his own thing. Recess is a great place, the menu prix fixe and all food is freshly made and created daily. Greg supports the Farm to Table concept who heartedly and uses only organic produce. Check them out online.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
RICHARD: Relaxed and without ceremony. It’s wine, not a painting. I think our wines are so balanced that people often don’t notice how good they are until second or third sip.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
RICHARD: I still feel like I’m 21, but I’m still trying to figure out who that guy is that is looking back at me in the mirror every morning.
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 El Dorado County AVA can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
92 Points – Wine Enthusiast – “A 100%-Cabernet Franc from mountainous El Dorado County! This wine’s crazy good with tons of varietal character — woodsy tannins, touch of green pepper, vials of violets — that’s also packed with plenty of great plum, cassis and savory notes of leather and mocha, all in a memorable package. With plenty of grip and acid, enjoyed over a meal, it gets better by the minute and has the depth to age 5 – 10 years, too.” – V.B
About the Wine
This is a wine made for the open-minded, the adventurous and those who root for the underdog. It’s Cabernet Franc from El Dorado California aged in used French Oak for 22 months; truly a Scrapper.
This single vineyard, 100% Cabernet Franc displays deep plum color, medium brick red on the edges. The aromas are rich with ripe Cabernet notes such as cassis, black cherry, leather and cigar box. The palate is very concentrated with a rich sappy core of fruit backed by firm tannins with soft supple edges. The core fruit is blueberry and boysenberry, with silky vanilla from French Oak. Additionally there’s a subtle spice which explodes out of the Cabernet matrix making this Franc varietally distinct and correct.
This is a fine wine made from low yielding Cabernet Franc grown at high elevation in the El Dorado foothills in Red Volcanic soils. It is head trained to allow maximum sun light into the canopy yielding a Cab Franc without vegetative flavors. This a wine for the open-minded and adventurous, but any Cabernet Sauvignon fancier would become an instant fan.
This wine pairs nicely with well seasoned Rib Eye Steak topped with Golden Chanterelles sauteed with shallots and tarragon and a pinch of sea salt. Or try a whole or half chicken roasted and then split and finished over the grill, served quartered and tossed with brioche pieces, pine nuts, dried cranberries and over a Caesar salad with shaved Reggiano Parmesan
About Vinum Cellars
Vinum Cellars is a small California Winery well known for producing wines of the highest quality. The grapes are selected from premium coastal and cool climate growing areas within California. The wines are made by hand in small batches to allow the varietal character of each wine to express itself.
Vinum Cellars is a collaboration of winemaker’s Richard Bruno and Chris Condos, who first became friends while they were students at UC Davis. They share a long standing passion for Chenin Blanc and fondness for the more obscure grape varieties.
After graduation, Chris went to work for Pine Ridge an Enologist, and Richard wehnt to Bonny Doon as their distiller. Shortly after, their friendship was solidified over Chenin Blanc with the creation of their first wine “Pointe Blanc”. Currently the Vinum Cellars team is working with over 10 grape varieties from El Dorado and San Benito Counties to Napa Valley.
Our basic winemaking philosophy is to work with great grape growers to develop the best fruit in the vineyard. We pick the grapes at optimal ripeness and gently process the fruit. We are very experimental with yeast strains and use different cultures for each variety. Our whites are barrel fermented slowly and aged Sur Lies in small French Oak barrels. With our reds, skin contact is optimized by the use of small open top fermentors, hand punch downs and extended maceration before pressing. Our belief in the use of older French Oak barrels allows the varietal fruit of our wines to be expressed. We are committed to experimenting and learning new winemaking methods while preserving an old world approach.
Varietal Composition 51% Syrah, 28% Mourvedre, 21% Grenache
Appellation: El Dorado
Winemakers: Richard Bruno, Chris Condos
Harvest Brix: 25.0O (average)
TA (g/100ml): 0.58
Barrels: 25% new French Oak, 75% 2 year old French Oak
Production: 1,628 cases (6 pack / 750ml)