The fruit for this wine came from the Chalk Hill appellation. Encompassing the northeast corner of the larger Russian River Valley AVA, the Chalk Hill AVA was established in June of 1988. It is named for its unique, volcanically-derived, chalky white ash soils which lend themselves to the production of excellent Cabernet Sauvignon. Higher elevations than most of the RRV are responsible for slightly warmer temperatures and moderating afternoon breezes. The upper hills also produce incredible Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Malbec, Merlot and more.
The 2014 Vintage was an interesting one. Early bud break, a hot, dry growing season, and exceptionally early harvest in some areas caused some concern over the physiological ripeness of the fruit. But a cool, damp front moved through the Sonoma countryside in early august and gave us a few more weeks on the vine. All in all, it was a good, if condensed, year for grapes in Sonoma.
We destemmed without crushing into new French Oak barrels. As the fruit began to soften, we had friends come and stomp traditionally in the new barrels. Fermentation on the Franc was the fastest ferment I’ve seen. Temperatures spiked in the 90’s, and the wines were dry after 8 days. Another week of skin contact gave us even more extraction and depth. The wines were pressed and went back into the exact barrels in which they were fermented. We returned the wines to barrel “dirty” which means we didn’t settle out the heavy lees or clarify. The wines rested on these lees for the whole of their time in barrel. Giving length, depth and texture.
Cab Franc is a wine drinker's wine. Full of personality, structure, fruit and grip. It’s a parent grape of Cab Sav, but you’d not know it. With medium tannins and medium body, it’s best enjoyed in it’s youth, before the amazing aromas fade. Full of roasted Chili peppers, sour cherries, graphite and orange peel. It fills the mouth on the first sip, and lingers long after disappearing. The full barrel ferment (which is NOT typical for red wines), integrates the oak early, and gives a richness to this wine not found in tank-fermented reds. Spice, a little smoke, and rich red fruits round out midpalate to end, making sure you have another sip. The DON can be enjoyed young, and it will cellar for 5 to 8 years. Bottle time will bring out deeper notes, with the fruit becoming more subtle. Either way, you win! Proper serving temperature of Cabernet Franc is slightly cooler to tighten aromas and texture. Think high 60’s. Named after my better half, and similar in style, you’ll find there’s nothing else like it.
We chose a throwback label from the fine artist, Dan Pullen. He exclusively designed our Bootleg labels before we bonded our winery. Harkening back to times when making wine in your garage was the only way to get it, we love the vintage look and feel of “the Don.” Only 800 bottles and 20 Magnums were made. It won’t last long.