Oakville Ranch Vineyards

2005 Robert's Blend Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc

California: Napa Valley: Oak Knoll District

Offer Expired:Nov 05, 2011 at 11:59 pm
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What We Say


Today’s exceptional Cabernet Franc is truly a classic. If you are a fan of this varietal, this is the special occasion wine you’ve been waiting for. A great vintage, great winery and simply a great wine. Enjoy!


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Mission Codename: Let’s Be Franc

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Return to Oakville Ranch Vineyards, a winery that we first infiltrated in 2008 to secure an exclusive library allocation of their fabled Robert’s Blend Cabernet Franc, a wine that consistently scores among the top of its class.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Oakville Ranch Vineyards

Wine Subject: 2005 Robert’s Blend Cabernet Franc

Winemaker: Anne Vawter

Backgrounder: The Oakville AVA, centrally located and adjacent to Napa Valley’s famous Rutherford AVA, was established in July 1993. Oakville is considered on of the most diverse AVA’s in the Napa area and grows some of the best Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon in California. Today’s wine, from Oakville Ranch Vineyards, expresses extraordinary fruit, exemplary winemaking and what is certainly a little bit of magic.

Cabernet Franc is one of our Operative’s favorite red varietals. Perhaps this is because its flavors are often rich, layered, complex and elegant. Or, perhaps we love 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. When we feature a Cab Franc, you can be assured that it is excellent.

Today’s 2005 Robert’s Blend Cabernet Franc, which earned a 91-point score from Connoisseurs Guide.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Dense garnet purple with ruby red hues that shine through its dark but clear heart. Along the edges the color pales slightly and when swirled evenly spaced medium thick legs ring the glass.

Smell – Balanced and aromatic but not overbearing, be sure to give this wine its time, and you’ll be rewarded with ripe and tangy blackberry black and red cherry and currants wrapped up in a soft earthy minerality and toasted oak. A touch of briar and green herbs along with graphite and hints of pencil shavings.

Feel – Supple, warm and velvet smooth on the attack, this full-bodied dry wine has soft and finely grained tannins that are counterbalanced by its lively and tangy acidity and distinct mountain minerality that develops at mid palate.

Taste – Layers of rich and dense dark blackberry, currants and dark black and red cherry mingle with dusty mountain minerality, dried briar herbs, sweet spice and a touch of cocoa and bittersweet chocolate. Toasted oak and other complex earthy notes also develop as this wine continues to open

Finish – Lingering and clean with the tangy and lively acidity and the tannins lasting long as the rich and dense dark fruit fades leaving hints of dried herbs, earthy and toasted oak undertones and the mineral texture behind.

Conclusion – The 2005 Oakville Ranch Vineyards Robert’s Blend Cabernet Franc is simply a fantastic wine from one of the best vintages in recent history. Classic Franc aromas and flavors with a rich, well developed and elegant mouthfeel and a long finish. Its distinct dusty and mountain minerality lingers from start to finish. A perfect wine to pair with grilled New York strips or to enjoy in front of the fireplace. Drink this wine tonight or cellar for the next ten years as it continues to develop.

Mission Report:

Paula Kornell
Oakville Ranch Vineyards
7781 Silverado Trail
Napa, California 94558
(707) 944-9665 office
(707) 479-2000 cell
(707) 944-9326 fax

Here you go..Have a great weekend


SUBJECT: Anne Vawter

WINE EDUCATION: BS in Viticulture and Enology from UC Davis

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Anne worked for wineries in California, Washington State and Chile before settling and Paradigm in Oakville, California as Assistant Winemaker to Heidi Barrett. In 2008, Anne started her Winemaking Consultancy.

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Anne’s philosophy is to let the vineyard shine up at Oakville Ranch. To do this, she pays particular attention to the grapes as they near harvest, working closely with Phil Coturri to determine the perfect harvest time. In the winery, Anne works to have the wines be expressive and fruit forward through a warm fermentation with active punch downs. Anne pays particular attention to the time of pressing to ensure a balance with a lush and pleasing mouthfeel. Aging is done in French oak barrels and the quantity and cooper is determined by each particular wine with regular racking for the development and clarity of the wine. Preparation for bottling is minimal as wines are usually bottled unfiltered and unfined.

WINEMAKER QUOTE: “Work with great fruit and great people and your job as a winemaker is half done!”


AGENT RED: Greetings, Anne. We are thrilled to be showing your 2005 Robert’s Blend today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

ANNE VAWTER: No problem, it’s my pleasure.

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

ANNE: My father shared wine with me as a young adult and I have always remembered sitting at the kitchen table with him, trying to pick out different flavors and aromas.

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

ANNE: I would have to say Heidi Barrett as I worked as her assistant for four years at Paradigm winery. I have stayed very true to what she taught me, but I am also expanding and learning for those around me. My husband works for Philipe Melka and I am fortunate to have the benefit of learning a little bit about how they make wine.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

ANNE: [poss answers: myself, consumers, wine reviewers] I will never bottle a wine that I don’t love, but I’m also keenly aware of the desires of the winery owner and the mission that the brand is committed to.

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

ANNE: the 2005 Cabernet Franc is a beautiful example of what our mountaintop in Oakville can do with Cabernet Franc. There is something really special about the flavor profile in this wine. It always gives us lush blue and black fruit, but what makes this Cabernet Franc stand out from the rest is that it is so multi layered. There is so much going on, it just keeps on giving and is a solid stand-alone wine.

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

ANNE: I love a light stew with this wine. The wine is rich, and can stand up to a robust meal, but I like to have it with food that doesn’t overshadow the delicate layers of the wine. A veal ravioli, or a coq a vin are all great choices for this wine.

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Oakville region so special?

ANNE: Well, not only is Oakville special, I don’t really have to elaborate on that, but the eastern hills in the Oakville Appellation are really unique, we have dark red, volcanically derived soils that are rocky and rich and extremely well drained, we get incredible sun exposure and we are up above the inversion layer and therefore it is warmer at night. Much of the time we are also above the fog line so we get fabulous heat units and sun exposure in a really dynamic environment.

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

ANNE: Harvest! All I think about right now is 2011 wines and how I can make them the best that they can be. I’m thinking about harvesting decisions, fermentation kinetics, pressing decisions, cooper selections and doing it all in response to the challenges that this vintage is throwing our way.

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

ANNE: I would love for them to learn a little about where this wine comes from. If they can at least go to the web site, look at a map or go to Google earth and see where we are, they will get a sense for how special this place is and how that feeling translates to the wine and gives it a reason for being the way it is.

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

ANNE: Drink up! And thanks so much for taking the time to learn about Oakville Ranch and myself.

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 approximate location of the Oakville Ranch Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

Awards & Accolades:

91 PointsConnoisseurs’ Guide – Dark fruits and stony soils are suggested by this wine’s nicely rich aromas, and, as the wine opens, it slowly reveals curranty, dried leaf and slightly briary notes that are at once “claretty” in nature but stand on their own as separate from Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is both tight and slightly supple at the front of the palate and picks up a bit of the variety’s crunching tannin in the latter half. It wants service with beef steaks or roasts and has plenty of stuffing for five to eight year of aging.

About This Wine:

The polished tannins and vibrant fruit are evidence of a near-perfect vintage. Its terroir-driven hint of wet stones and silkish franc character is a counterpoint to the complementary cabernet sauvignon component. cocoa powder, spice, and deep berry fruits complete the artful mosaic.

Rising to 1,400 feet above the silverado trail on the east side of the napa valley, oakville ranch was one of the first mountain vineyards − and is the highest − in the oakville appellation. Since 1989, several other highly regarded and prestigious wineries have become neighbors, drawn to this hillside for its powerful, signature-red, volcanic soils.

The ranch has only 90 acres of vineyards draped over the 350-acres of wild and native grass and woodlands. Chardonnay and bordeaux varietals − cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc are planted in small blocks and organically farmed, using sustainable practices that enrich and enhance our precious earth. A naturally limited and yet intense grape crop is our reward.

The Vineyard:

Oakville Ranch is the original mountain vineyard of the sub-appellation that produces the New World’s most celebrated Cabernets. Covering just two square miles at the heart of Napa Valley, the Oakville district may be small, but its wines play a very big role in the connoisseur’s collection. At 1,400 feet above the valley floor, Oakville Ranch produces fruit that speaks from the appellation’s signature red volcanic soil with a mountain accent.

The Oakville Ranch vineyard is an animated, effusively beautiful place. The vines are surrounded by wild grasses, native meadows and unsullied woodlands. Insectaries and raptor habitats provide efficient pest control and welcome biodiversity. And of course, people work hard in the midst of it all to grow grapes and make wines that are lush and unapologetically true, that hum with life.

The vineyard has seen a deliberate shift away from conventional farming methods intended to subdue nature rather than to harness its vitality. Vineyard blocks are now cultivated to “grow” terraces naturally in conjunction with the vines. A holistic organic approach addresses the needs of the vines on an intrinsic level rather than simply layering on additives. In the two decades since Bob and Mary Miner purchased the 350-acre ranch, plantings have slowly increased from an initial 55 acres to today’s 75 acres of predominantly Bordeaux varietals. The result has been an awakening of the vineyard’s exceptional potential; it has begun producing fruit of the highest quality available in the appellation.

About The Winemaker:

Anne Vawter, Winemaker – The daughter of a Walla Walla dairy farmer, Anne learned early on that agricultural work doesn’t come with a lot of vacation days. She graduated from high school prepared to study dentistry at the University of Washington, but something about that cushy career path wasn’t as compelling to her as making a living outdoors. When her father told her about the Enology program he’d just discovered at the University of California at Davis, it sounded almost too good to be true.

After earning a B.S. in Viticulture and Enology, she worked at wineries in Washington, California and Chile before joining the winemaking team at Paradigm Winery here in Napa Valley. She took over as winemaker for Oakville Ranch in 2010, the inaugural year of her first release under her own label, Red Mare.

Blending is the part of winemaking Anne relishes most, and she is delighted to have the opportunity to work with the coveted Oakville Ranch yield. To focus the expression of each vineyard block, to give the wine it’s greatest opportunity to shine—this is how artful blending makes something astonishing year after year. An avid equestrian, she sees numerous parallels between making wine and training horses. In each processes, there are a thousand points at which she makes decisions, each one accumulating over time to create a unique outcome. And yet, the goal is constant: a soft, supple, round result that is pleasing to the connoisseur.

Anne lives on a horse ranch in Calistoga with her husband, Cameron, the director of wine and grape production at Dana Estates in Rutherford, and their two young daughters. The family raises chickens and vegetables and keeps bees. One of their favorite pastimes is something they call the Bellybutton Game, which cracks them up on a regular basis.

Technical Analysis:

Appellation: 100% napa valley, oakville; 100% oakville;
52% robert’s block (cabernet franc); 38% bobcat blocks (cabernet franc); 9% vista (cabernet sauvignon); 1% terrace (cabernet sauvignon)

Varietal: 90% cabernet franc, 10% cabernet sauvignon

Harvest date: October 11, 2005 (cabernet franc); October 21, 2005 (cabernet sauvignon)

Fermentation: 9 days, 10 on the skins

Barrel aging: 18 months in 100% french barrels, 50% new
racking quarterly

Bottling date: April 11, 2007

Alcohol: 14.4%

pH: 3.68

TA: 0.61

Production: 393 6-pack cases, plus 8 cases of magnums

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