Aromas and flavors of black cherry, concentrated dried cherries and milk-chocolate covered cherries are framed with pepper and oak spice, returning to sweet hazelnut and simply luscious, mouth-filling tannins. A hint of caramel lingers in this nicely balanced, well-structured and pleasing Cabernet Franc that will enhance nicely hardy roasted and braised meats with rich sauces.
The Cabernet Franc fruit for Sterling Reserve Cabernet Franc was sourced from the Tamagni Vineyard in Calistoga, which lies south of the town of Calistoga between the Silverado Trail and the Napa River. Cabernet Franc is often used to enhance the framework of Bordeaux-style wines, but the exceptional grapes from this warm vineyard site, with its well-draining, low-vigor, rock-and-clay decomposed tufa soils, yields a wine with all the elements to shine as the primary grape variety.
Winter rains helped signal the end of the immediate drought, but vineyards had grown stressed after multiple challenging years, resulting in modest yields for the season. A dry January was followed by a wet February, and temperatures remained mild, encouraging an early bud break to begin the growing season. Showers arrived in April, slowing the rapid advance of flowering and set. Early by historical standards, after harvest began picks moved at a leisurely pace as winemakers waited for ever more complex flavors to develop. The extended season helped balance acids and allowed layers of flavors to emerge.
Historically a Bordeaux blending varietal, Cabernet Franc has a distinct personality of its own highlighted in this reserve bottling. Fruit is hand-harvested in the cool early dawn hours. Fruit was then hand-sorted, selecting only the highest quality for fermentation in stainless vessels. Extended maceration for two weeks with regular pump-overs to extracted deep color and rich flavors. After fermentation, the wine is aged for 20 months in small French oak barrels (55% new) prior to bottling, where the wine is allowed to rest for at least six months to gain further complexity. A small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon is blended to build structure and enhance the flavor profile.