Frazier Family Estate
2003 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s wine is, in a word, gorgeous! This 2003 is another stellar example of how wonderful Napa Cabernet Sauvignon can be
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Mission Codename: All in the family
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Our Operatives demand another great Frazier Cabernet Sauvignon. Send Agent Red to Napa Valley to investigate claims that the Frazier family has crafted an ’03 Cab that holds its own against wines at twice the price. If verified, procure a suitable quantity for our Operatives to enjoy
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Frazier Family Estate Winery
Wine Subject: 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon – Napa Valley
Winemakers: John Gibson
Backgrounder: Earlier this year, we procured a small allotment of Frazier’s fantastic 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon. We loved the wine, as did our Operatives. The fervor that was expressed for the wine led Agent Red back to the winery, this time for stellar selection for the winery’s library. Read his tasting notes and mission report below for a complete profile of today’s wine
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep garnet with a dark burgundy – almost black – heart with a speedy yet weighty-looking surface that settles quickly after swirling, leaving behind fat, tightly-spaced legs that move slowly down the glass
Smell – Lush layers of dark and smoky fruits, with a spicy rush of blueberry, blackberry, mocha, licorice and minerals with mild spice and soft cigar box
Feel – Wet, light and cool at initial entry, then lush tannins take hold with a rich texture that coats your mouth as flavors expand and become even larger in your mouth
Taste – Deeply delicious with lush layers of concentrated fruit of dark mixed berries, smoky plum, chalky mineral, black cherry, tobacco, dark chocolate and cassis
Finish – Extra long finish with richly layered medium tannins that dry but then leave behind big flavors that increase and then taper gradually
Conclusion – If I was crazy about the 2004 Cab from Frazier, I am Bonkers about this gorgeous 2003! This wine has a super mouthfeel, a delicious concentration of classic Napa flavors, layer upon layer of lush aromas and an intriguing finish. I love Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, and this wine really shines through as one of the richest, duskiest and most delicious I have tried. With a little bottle age on it, this wine is drinking beautifully – and it will even continue to get better with age.
What follows is a mission recap, from the first time we infiltrated the Frazier Family Estate winery:
I can’t divulge the exact details on how I procured today’s wine. I could tell you, but then, you know. I can, however,
As a Wine Spy, I have to develop new assets – those people that feed me intel on wines, wineries, winemakers and the like – all of the time. Sometimes these assets take a long time to develop, while others come about more quickly. Still others are developed through sheer chance – as is the case with my most recent asset.
Those who know me know that as recently as 2007, I was a competition foil fencer (you know, en guarde and the like). I wasn’t the greatest fencer, but would consistently hold my own at regional competitions. You also know that until January of 2009, I will remain stationed in Monterey, California. I was relocated here in late 2007 to help establish one of our three bases of operations, which now include Sonoma/Napa, Beverly Hills and Monterey. When I moved down from Sonoma, I found that Monterey had no fencing.
I was miserable, until I learned just this month that a few hardcore fencers gather at the local YMCA twice a week. I was elated.
I showed up last Sunday and found all of one fencer there. Better than none, and I gladly suited up. I won’t tell you how poorly I fenced, but I will tell you that the gentleman that I fenced turned out to be a former winemaker! We hit it off and chatted about the wine business between bouts.
The fencer, I’ll call him Tom, was winemaker for a prominent Monterey County winery that was acquired by a bigger Napa Valley winery. While has hasn’t been active in the business, his knowledge about wine and the global wine scene was impressive. We talked about a few wineries and I asked him if he had tasted a recent wine that knocked his socks off. He told me about Frazier Family Estate winery and their fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon.
Tom’s recommendation led me to activate another of my assets, Agent NV (as in envy and Napa Valley – more about NV in an upcoming mission). NV was able to get me a quick meeting with Kimberly Frazier, Operations Manager (meaning she does everything at the winery) and daughter of Bill Frazier, who founded the winery in 1995. Kim allowed us to secure a small quantity for you today, dear Operative, at a very special price. A hearty thanks to Kim!
Look for a subsequent mission, when we’ll feature another great Frazier wine. I hope to be able to spend some time with Kim and Bill in order to bring you another winery/winemaker interview. Look for that later this year.
Meanwhile, act fast, because this wine will go fast – and once its gone, its gone…
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the beautiful Frazier Estate, where today’s Cabernet Sauvignon was grown, can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Frazier Family Estate, Member, Napa Valley Vintners
Awards & Accolades:
94 Points & Taster’s Choice – The Wine News – Intense ruby-purple hue. Complex aromas of blueberry, mixed berries, minerals, bittersweet chocolate and iron. Concentrated, inky flavors of blackberry, mocha, minerals and dried tobacco are dense yet lithe. Creamy finish shows lively citrus note. (July, 2006)
90 Points – Wine Enthusiast – This ’03 brought back memories of the excellent ’99…classically structured. From a cooler part of the valley, it blends dried herbs in with the black currant. (Sept, 2006)
About This Wine:
The 2003 Frazier Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is deep garnet in color which is a clue to the expansive qualities of this rich wine. Aromas of raspberries and currants waft upwards to fill your glass. The inviting flavors of blackberries, bitter-sweet chocolate, anise, vanilla, and toasty oak are balanced with a firm muscular backbone which will soften to its peak in 8 to 10 years. This hearty Cabernet will certainly enhance a menu of grilled lamb, roast beef, as well as chocolate torte. – JOHN GIBSON, winemaker
About The Winery:
Frazier is a small producer of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Napa Valley Merlot. The wines are big, and bold, yet marked by great complexity and finesse.
Owner Bill Frazier’s vision, hard work and perseverance has grown Frazier Winery from a small, 900 case per year venture to a successful, family owned and operated 5,000 case operation. With John Gibson’s meticulous attention to detail and never-ending quest for excellence together they will continue to guide the Frazier wines along their way to quality and distinction.
The Frazier Estate is perched high on a hill in the Coombsville area of the Napa Valley. In 2006 this area of Napa, previously under the broad Napa Valley AVA, was submitted to the TTB for consideration as its own unique appelation. This new area would be called Tulocay and at this time is still pending approval.
The original planting, in 1990, was unusual for two reasons. First, Cabernet Sauvignon was not routinely planted this far south in the valley. Recent years had seen Merlot come of age in the Carneros region (just southwest of the Frazier Estate) and this young success influenced Bill Frazier’s thinking. The Merlot grown in the cool Carneros region was particularly elegant, with great finesse and backbone, in addition to rich fruit. Bill decided to plant his site to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.
In a second break from tradition Bill decided that the accepted spacing of 8 X12 (with approximately 450 vines per acre) was not appropriate for this location and this varietal mix. Accordingly, he planted his vineyard to a 6 X 31/2 spacing yielding approximately 2100 vines per acre. Putting this additional stress on the vine encourages the vine to produce fewer berries that are smaller in size, resulting in a wine of increased intensity and concentration.
The vineyard consists of two opposite facing hillsides. The Northern Hill, facing due south has a 14% downward slope. The soil is shallow with varying depths of 6" to 24". Vines are trained in the unique Scott-Henry trellis system, which alternates the training of one vine vertically upward and the next vine vertically downward. This allows the fruit to be exposed 100% to sun in both the morning and the afternoon and insures excellent ripening conditions.
The Merlot vines were planted as dormant benchgrafts with 2 different clonal selections on 5BB and 5C rootstock. The initial Cabernet vines were also planted as dormant benchgrafts with 4 clonal selections on 5BB, 5C, 1616, and 1103P rootstocks.
In 1998 Bill purchased the neighboring 46 acres and began a second planting. Completed in 1998, this new block of 11 acres contains Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. As the science of viticulture evolves planting decisions become both more complex and more significant. The issue of matching site to rootstock and scion wood becomes increasingly important in the quality of resulting fruit. For the new planting owner Bill Frazier, winemaker John Gibson, and noted viticulture consultant Rex Geitner chose 101-14 and 3309 as rootstocks for this site, Cabernet clones 337 and 15, Merlot clone 181, Petit Verdot clone 2 and Cabernet Franc clones 312 and 332. The first crop from this new block was harvested in 2000.
In 2007 Bill ripped 10 acres of land for a new vineyard project that will be planted in 2008. In addition, he decided to replant 1 acre of a Merlot block planted in 1990 that was not performing to expectations. With the cooler conditions in the southeast portion of the vineyard it was determined that Chardonnay would be well suited for the climate and soil profile. This planting marks a milestone for Frazier as this Chardonnay will be the first white wine produced by Frazier Winery.
Harvest Dates: October 16-31, 2003
Harvest Analysis: 25.4% Brix, TA: 4.0 grams/l, pH: 3.85
Pre-Fermentation Maceration: 72 hours at 60 degrees F.
Pumpover Regime: 2 times a day with aeration until dryness
Maximum Fermentation Temperature: 90 degrees F.
Total Skin Contact: 35 days
Barrel Aging: 24 months in French oak
Blend Composition: 88.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 3% Merlot, 2.5% Petit Verdot
Case Production: 1,730 Cases