Franc-N-Blanc

Sounds like I’ve just created a new movie monster. In some ways, what I’m referring to in the title is just that, at least from the standpoint of the wine biz.

More context needed?

How about this? Combine two powerhouse wine grapes together, plant vigorously throughout the world and let loose on millions of wine drinkers. Getting closer? Sounds like a great movie plot to me, but then again, I live in suburban Chicago, not Hollywood.

752429.gif

Opening scene: It’s sometime in the 1600’s, a lonely farmer is out tending to his grape harvest. All of a sudden a brisk wind blows across the fields, on one side, a planting of Cabernet Franc on the other, Sauvignon Blanc. That mighty wind whisks pollen from one and delicately deposits it upon the other.

Many years later: The farmer notices a change in one of the vines. The grapes slightly different and once picked, to evaluate its ripeness, the flavor has a marked difference. The farmer sits and wonders what has happened, fearing the worse.

Fast forward to modern day: Looking out over a small expanse of land and what could only be considered the “First Growth” region of Napa Valley, the farmer surveys the land and calculates that they can get as much as $50,000 per ton for those berries hanging from those vines that are now called “Cabernet Sauvignon.” WOW!

Not a bad movie premise if I say so myself. It also explains a fair amount as it pertains to Cabs from Napa today. It also helps explain a personal preference of mine as well (more on that later).

What gave rise to my screenwriting career? Over the last few days I had run across a couple of articles, the first focused on Cabernet Sauvignon and its history and the part it plays in wine and the other talking about how the author loves a good Napa Cab if only he could afford one. Sounded to me like a reason, nay, a need, to write about the quandary facing this noblest grape.

6762_30.jpg

Returning to that lonely farmer out in the field, let’s first concentrate on how Cabernet Sauvignon came to be. Indeed, it is thought that sometime in the 17th Century the first Cab came to be from the cross-pollination of Cab Franc (a much written about grape in my blog) and Sauvignon Blanc (ditto). This theory was confirmed through DNA analysis in 1996 with the use of DNA typing at the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology. This is boring, so I’m moving back to the modern day and to my personal preferences; this is another one of those trifectas. Three grapes that I love; Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon! Who knew? Of course, I did. You can’t be in the biz as long as I have and not know all this, but it’s still fun to write about.

With the history lesson out of the way, next up is to explain that farmer and his whopping $50,000 a ton crop of Cabernet and the author’s inability to find a good Napa Cab.

Let me begin by saying that I believe in personal preferences and favorites. Cost is not the determining factor in what YOU may think of wine, that’s up to those taste and smell receptors you have in that noggin of yours. For this writing, and from my receptors, most of the time, I can tell the difference and given the right wine, bask gloriously in and savor those lavish wines of higher cost. Too much?

Back to the story. Beginning at the start (double something?), the author of the second article is sitting in front of six glasses containing Cabs from winemaker Paul Hobbs. So if you know of Paul Hobbs and his wines you know his personal label (I say that as he has other labels) wines and his straight Napa Cab retails for around $100 a bottle. Ah, but in addition, there were some of his Single-Vineyard wines, most notably from the Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard. This writer’s opinion is that most of the Beckstoffer Vineyards do represent Napa’s “First Growth” selections. If you can find it, be prepared to shell out over $400 a bottle and possibly as high as $500. It’s kind of a 100 to 1 ratio for those mathematically inclined.

Fitting, at least for this screenwriter, comes the quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet, “Aye, there’s the rub!”

quote-from-Hamlet.jpg

When, in my early days of winery (not at a winery, but the verb, which I don’t think there is one) I was content to sip away at those $20 bottles of wine and relish them on my palate. Ah, but not to be (or is that “to be or not to be”) for long, when I was introduced to a myriad of wines pushing the limit of my budget that led me to discover the tweaks and nuances of “fine wine.”

Going back and trying to find those expressions in value-priced wine is almost as difficult as finding that DeLorean to return to the past. If found, one could return to buy those wines and find them selling at more modest prices. But we must proceed forward, knowing that to find those examples of wines shall not be an easy task (or at least to find them at prices most can afford).

I have sympathy for the author and his quest, as I too have tried to find that Cabernet that sells at a price commensurate with daily imbibing. Some of which I have, and shall continue to do, within this blog.

Melka CJ 2010.jpg

The Final Act: Thinking so much about a great Cabernet, we find this author preparing his meal for the evening. Roasted Chicken Breast and broccoli with mashed potatoes. Sitting and thinking about completing the evening, and the meal, with a wine that fills his thoughts of those exemplary wines from his youth (well, not that long ago) but a wine worthy of all that is a fine Napa Cabernet. He reaches for a wine from Melka, their CJ (initials of their children Chloe and Jeremy), from the 2010 Vintage.

Knowing his desire to savor the wine over a few days, he also retrieves his trusty Coravin to allow just enough for the evening so as to have another day to luxuriate with the wine again. He pours, he smells, those rich dark fruit aromas rising from the glass with just a touch of floral. He sips, the aromas developing into similar palate pleasing notes, the wine has developed softness over the years as yet still encased in tannins that give it a brooding depth of flavor and a finish that seemingly goes on forever.

We leave our author to sleep, perchance to dream, of the Cabernets yet to be discovered, hoping that they turn not to nightmares of the dreaded “Franc-N-Blanc.”

Fini

Cheers

PS: I know I’m no Shakespeare