2011 Two Jakes of Diamonds Cabernet Franc, Lake County
Cabernet Franc is the father of Cabernet Sauvignon, leaner and with more depth. Our rocky soils restrain vine growth, exposing berries to our high altitude sunlight, which brings out bright white cherry flavors framed by firm tannins. We enjoy this wine with grilled wild mushroom pasta dishes or pork and plums.
Vintage and Winemaker Notes
Diamond Ridge is located in a sunny high altitude site with rocky granitic soils which force Cabernet Franc to put its energy into pushing its roots down into the rock, resulting in a lively mineral energy in the wine’s finish. These conditions develop good color and firm but refined tannins which impart amazing age-worthiness.
Because of its proximity to Clear Lake, the site is also blessed with a “lake effect” – a daily visit from the cooling breezes off this deep body of water, largest in the State. The consequence is that the plum and cinnamon aromas the grape develops are conserved. The combination of rich fruit aromatics, firm tannin structure and lively minerality make this among the most complete and collectible expressions of Cabernet Franc in the New World.
The 2011 was harvested on October 31 in cool conditions which achieved full ripeness at low brix. Fermented traditionally and aged in neutral cooperage for 26 months to resolve its reductive strength. Age has added a cedar bouquet to its spicy grenadine and rosemary aromas. For roundness and flesh, we blended in 5% of our
Merlot. The resulting palate possesses a sweet core of fruit which is framed by substantial tannins and a bright mineral finish.
Although suitable for current consumption with pork and cherries or grilled duck breast, this is really a collector’s wine which will benefit substantially from a few years in the cellar. Our vineyards are located on the volcanic hillsides above the eastern shores of Clear Lake. Our grapes are some of the most sought after in Lake County. Cooling lake breezes preserve berry flavors, while our soils confer a refreshing minerality.
Blend/Composition: 95% Cabernet Franc Clone 1, 5% Merlot Clone 181
Aging: Three weeks microbüllage pre ML 26 months in neutral French oak
Average Degree Brix: 25.6
pH at Bottling: 3.76
Production: 185 cases
Bottling Date: December 2013
2011 Two Jakes of Diamonds Merlot, Lake County
Our Merlot invites lamb dishes, of course, but this wine’s refreshing minerality also asks to be served with grilled duck breast or before dinner with a fine ripe brie or, if there is any left, after, with dark chocolate.
Vintage and Winemaker Notes
Our vineyard is located in a site with rocky granitic soils that result in a very different expression of Merlot from the typical California profile. The persistent sunny rays at the high altitude impart extravagant color and bright pomegranate aromas with no vegetal aspect. Our proximity to Clear Lake’s afternoon cooling “lake effect” preserves these aromas. While our volcanic soils produce solid, age-worthy tannins which impart amazing ageworthiness.The combination of rich fruit aromatics, firm tannin structure and lively minerality resemble the wines of the Pomerol district of Bordeaux in Southwestern France.
The 2011 was harvested in late October in cool conditions which achieved full ripeness at low brix. Fermented traditionally and aged in neutral cooperage for 26 months to refine its dense, hard tannins and lend subtle nuances of vanilla and toffee. The wine you will encounter offers lush and generous fruit enjoyable today but with potential for substantial bottle age.
My name is Jacob S. Stephens III, but everyone calls me Jake. I represent the third generation in our family to embrace the life of a farmer, following in the footsteps of my grandfather Jacob, and my father Jake II.In early 1990, an old family friend suggested that we look into the California vineyard business, specifically high-end wine grapes. Thinking this would be an exciting departure, we began looking for properties north of Stockton, California. After considerable time and investigation we settled on our first property, just south of Sacramento near the then small town of Elk Grove. Through hard work and good fortune, these vineyards proved to be of excellent character, with our grapes being purchased by a number of well known wineries in the Sonoma Valley.
In 1998, one of our neighbors came to us with a proposal to buy the ranch, an offer we couldn’t refuse. Having developed a passion for the business, we applied what we’d learned about the business and went looking for a great undiscovered site, finding it at last in the mountains of the North Coast. Lake County, to be exact, where we planted our vineyards and began producing Two Jakes of Diamonds.
In as much as we would love to be considered noble men, the truth is, idealistic farmers have difficulty surviving. Farmers play the hand they are dealt, exploit their advantages and try to minimize their risks. Economics compel us to focus on efficient productivity.
However, in the stern, rocky soils at our high altitude site near Clearlake, high yields are not an option. Therefore our mantra can be summed up in one word ~ quality. We grow top quality grapes because we have to. Distinctive wines reflect perfectly the environment in which they are grown, because grapes are delicate vessels which drink in the vineyard site’s attributes and carry the stamp of that place. Our ace in the hole is that our site allows us to grow fruit of comparable and sometimes superior attributes compared to our downhill neighbor Napa County, at a fraction of the cost of land, the principle driver of grape price.
Our unique combination of sought-after characteristics and reasonable prices results in tremendous value which is the key to our success. Our winery customers have come to rely on us to provide intense fruit aromas, color, minerality and tremendous palate energy, and these qualities have become our stock and trade.
AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY
@InFrom@karenhynes Clark is their Winemaker???
That’s amazing. Ok, In for a case. Maybe I’m mid-palate or just mid-life, but my favorites lately are Cab Franc and Cinsaut. Grapes I never even heard of 20 years ago.
@nostrom0 The Two Jakes wines are made the same way as the WineSmith. Their SRP is less ($30 compared to $40 for the WineSmith) because they spend less time in wood. The 2010 WineSmith is the current release, and it spent 78 months in neutral French oak, whereas this wine was 28 months in wood. As a result, the Two Jakes wines tend to be more fresh and fruity, even at this age, while the WineSmith wines are a bit more complex and nuanced.
The more I taste this tonight, the more I like it.
But can’t do a decent review.
Not getting the alcohol mentioned.
Got a case, wish I could go 100% for the CF.
Any takers for the Merlot only?
I felt like I’d reached peak oenophile when I got the email that this was on the way, THEY’RE SENDING ME FREE WINE TO REVIEW! I’VE MADE IT!!
I read the label notes after tasting so I wasn’t predisposed to taste things
Bright clear ruby
Hint of pepper
Wife: “Wine. Really alcoholly. It’s not like coffee where I can smell the fruits and chocolate and grass flavors.”
First taste: Tannins are really up front, peppery and green…Apple?. Finish has some tobacco notes
It’s really tight though, and she’s not wrong about the “alcoholly”ness; Tannins and alcohol are at the forefront.
Poured through a Vivino, and it opened up a little; the cherry comes out more on the nose and palate, this is the cabernet franc I wanted when I saw the bottle.
I’d buy the bottle right now… but how about a decant…
2 hour decant and the fruit is out in front, Cherry and Granny Smith, with a hint of tannins. I’m sold.
Wife: “It tastes like wine with the feeling of pineapple under my tongue”
(Sometimes I want to give up…on her palate. Not her wifeness.)
Waited 2 hours + dinner between tastings (time which should have been used to decant the Merlot.)
Floral(but I can’t identify what)
This might be the tightest merlot I’ve ever opened. First pour I couldn’t taste anything but alcohol (I didn’t even bother asking the wife this time).
Vivino didn’t do much for it at all. Sitting for 30 minutes after pouring, start to get sour cherry.
Decanted 4 hours
The nose has all but disappeared.
Thin sour cherry is all I can taste, with a long finish. Not bad, but not amazing. I’d leave this on the shelf for a couple years before I try it again.
Read the bottle labels, Cabernet Franc gets it pretty close.
Merlot…I guess that could be pomegranate? But there’s no oak toffee or cashew.
Depending on pricing I’m in for a case, mainly for the Franc. The Merlot has potential, and is drinkable with a long decant, but it needs to age a while IMO.
Edit: 24hrs later, drank the rest of the Franc tonight. Damn.
At this price, I might get 2 cases…
I’m adding an amendment to the Merlot. 24 hours after opening, and DAMN that was surprising. The fruit is MUCH more pronounced and tastes more lush and velvety (instead of the thin taste earlier) with a longer finish.
I won’t be sad about it if no one takes me up on the split offer I posted below lol
I am actually drinking the Winesmith 2013 Meritage blend tonight… apparently from the same vineyard, albeit a different year. Perhaps also made differently, since this is a blended wine instead of two varietal wines? Still, this is good, and I think I’ve got to try these as well.
@worbx Yeah, I really like the tobacco-y barrel bouquet on that '13 Meritage. It is essentially a blend of these two wines and made the same way, but for some reason it developed quite differently. Probably some benign microbe, I suppose.
Microbe gone rogue? Lost it’s benignity?
Serious question… reviewing various tasting notes on the Merlot, it seems that it was very approachable early on, then at some point started to wind itself up more tightly. This seems unusual? Doesn’t sound like a “dumb phase” (does Merlot even go through a dumb phase?). Clark, I would love to hear your views on dumb phases in general sometime. I have really only heard that term in reference to Cab Sauv and Petite Sirah. From what I have heard, the dumb phase for Cab Sauv usually occurs between 5-10 years from bottling whereas with Petite Sirah the dumb phase doesn’t kick in until around 10 years but can last for 10 years.
My only experience with well aged PS was a 1996 Foppiano that I consumed last year. It was totally muted and shutdown, 22 years from bottling. After hearing this, @jmdavidson drank through his entire vertical of '96, '97, '98 and they were all the same, completely shut down.
If you don’t have time to discuss right now, no problem but please give me your quick thoughts on the Merlot’s evolution.
Thanks for all you do - the amazing wines, generous offers and wonderfully informative and in-depth commentary!
@InFrom, Two Jakes, and WineSmith are too good to share. So, no thanks for those offers! Just debating, if I should get one case or two, especially after having missed Laura’s Cabernet earlier this week
Open to sharing/splitting “not so great” offers in future!
What a great price on some World Class juice! Clark’s wines are built for age, with most still being quite approachable in their youth. Sounds like the Merlot is going to be a late bloomer compared to the Cab Franc in this deal. @InFrom I would be willing to add to my stash with another bottle or two of the Merlot either by trade or purchase if we are able to meetup in Buffalo or somewhere else next year… (you might have to remind me!)
Woke up this morning to the email from Clark about this offer and immediately came and pressed the big case button. Loved the Two Jake’s cab that came in the last wine Smith case offer from woot so I’m excited to see a bigger offer for it here and at a very approachable price point.
Not a big merlot drinker but it sounds like after a long decant or some time in bottle it might be approachable for me and even guests.
I have said this on all the previous offers of this merlot, but this is my favorite merlot. It is very much built for age, but is also exceptionally drinkable now. I have gone through over a case of it, and still have a case left. But at $12.50 a bottle I cant pass this offer up. That is a ridiculous price. Plus Clarks CF is always a hit.
@benguin986 That’s a good idea. We probably will sell this offer out.
I do agree that the Merlot has a great deal of aging potential ahead of it. Its tannin is highly structured, so you really can’t think of it as a California Merlot, as it is in no way soft and has no bell pepper aroma. Breathing certainly helps at this stage.The fruit is pomegranite/grenadine, but the tannins are more like a Pomerol such as Cheval Blanc, Trotanoy or Ausone. Of course these are over $100/bottle.
I used to work for a winegrape packing operation; basically packaging winegrapes or crushing them for home winemakers and wineries throughout the United States. As a result I have made wine and processed grapes from about every appellation in California (and Washington even) and was always impressed by the quality of Lake County and always postulated that it was a very underrated winegrowing region
Yes, this new kid on the block fits right in! I love that he is young and confident yet also very respectful of the established winemakers on Casemates. And of course we love any winemaker who just stops by once in awhile to hang out and share in the conversation. I am going to have to give Leoni Farms wines a try next time they appear here!
@chipgreen@Leonifarms@Winedavid49 been thinking the same thing… not sure if they are the style I’d typically fall for, but I may have given up trying to find my style at this point. I admire the effort that @Leonifarms brings and shares with our community about their community. Thanks!
@cruelMelody@cbrehman Perhaps it’s good that we missed the Pinot the other day – this offer is more enticing. I’m going to go for a four pack unless anyone is interested in a case split, then I could do 4 or 6 if I need to.
Couldn’t agree more with any opening lines, other than the one below. So hard to find, so difficult grape to handle, process, and perfect the art of winemaking, but once perfected…you get one of the best!
2011 Two Jakes of Diamonds Cabernet Franc, Lake County
Cabernet Franc is the father of Cabernet Sauvignon, leaner and with more depth.
I’d be really interested in South African grape Pinotage, especially from Stellenbosch region. Never seen any offers on those earlier on Wine.Woot or here. So hard to find in the stores too, yet one of my favorite grapes too!
Any chance @Winedavid49?
@klezman, I have had very limited tasting experience with Mourvedre, especially from there, but if I remember correctly, I have good remembrance of that. Definitely would like some Mourvedre too! Cheers
Funny (but true) story… In MO, Norton was an extremely popular wine grape North of the Missouri River for many decades while winemakers South of the river were very proud of their Cynthiana wines. There was a lot of debate back and forth over the years about which was better, Norton or Cynthiana, until a botanist came along and determined through DNA testing that they were the exact same grape.
@chipgreen@winesmith, haha…that’s a funny story indeed! Thanks for sharing and keeping the suspense of the story till the end
I’d love to try both and decide, both I liked, or both I did not like. After all banking on the fact from the story - Those grapes have been proven to have the exact same DNA!
@klezman, This is what happens when there’s Two Jakes, Clark’s Ironhorse, Peter Wellington, Pedroncelli etc. Many more to name, but not on top of my mind. Aging maybe, but I’m in constant state of denial!
2 @ 2 PM! Fortunate I didn’t buy them at 2 PM on 2/22, else would have to get 2+2+2+2 maybe
I guess this CT review I posted in 2017 for the 2011 Cab Franc is a little bit late considering the sellout, but thought I would share anyway…
8/11/2017: Wonderful nose but having trouble with specifics initially as I can’t get past “barrel room”. On the palate, mostly plum but with great depth. After additional swirling, also getting some tart cherry. Back to the nose and I am smelling plum and other dark fruits along with a hint of mint/camphor. As the wine continues to open in the glass, I detect some currant and blueberry notes. The tannins are becoming grippier but not drying - in fact, the wine has a juicy mouthfeel to it. Medium body, medium+ finish, nice minerality. Excellent effort by winemaker Clark Smith despite a sub-par vintage.
This is the end of the 2011 Cab Franc, but we still have plenty of the 2011 Merlot. We will honor this deal for a four-pack of that wine @ $59.99 or a case @ $149.99 if you come to www.winesmithwines.com. It will take us a couple days to set up that deal. You can also call us at 707-332-0056 any time M-F next week 9AM - 4PM Pacific time.
Thanks to Casemates for helping us connect to you guys with our Two Jakes project.
@abhiabhi As long as we still have stock, any past woot or casemates deal is listed on our winesmithwines.com site under the forum for Special Deals. We will also ship cases free and store indefinitely for free if you are short of space.
Well, my wine got here, and sad to say, one of the bottles was well on its way to losing its cork. Over an inch of it extended out of the bottle. Lots of drips, as you can imagine. Of the case, this looks to be the only one so affected. I’ve already written to Support.
So, was that from the cold? It was on its way from PA yesterday, got to the NYC area yesterday afternoon. It’s been mighty chilly. Though this is far from the first wine I’ve gotten in the dead of winter, never had this issue before.
@jermfish They asked me if other bottles were affected, and at least on superficial inspection, I can’t say that there is. But I’m concerned, especially since Clark advised laying these down for a couple of years. What if we do that, and think they’re off once we get around to trying them? (I opened one of the Merlot from my previous order, and I can confirm it could use some time.) Will we have recourse? It seems hard to put such a thing into practice. And what about the person I’m splitting the case with? What recourse would they have, their name isn’t on the order.
Good lord are you such a homer that you would advise a person who received expensive wine in a polar vortex with corks pushed up that everything is o.k.? At the very least the corks have been affected and could face oxidation down the road. First I hear it’s okay to ship in the middle of summer now this…I can’t take it anymore
Dunno, and a search yielded mixed opinions.
Some say little change, others differ.
Cold stabilization takes it down to ~-2C or so for extended time, not enough to freeze solid, but enough that tartaric acid crystals may precipitate out. The water may turn to slush. The extended cork clearly would be an issue for long term storage. Recork perhaps?
I’ve accidentally frozen some whites, IH chard, forgetting to pull them out after hoping for a rapid chill down. May not have been as good prior to the chill, but still consumable with no major changes (to me).
@rjquillin@ScottW58@winesmith@winedavid49 re: the suggestion to recork with a fresh cork, to my knowledge I don’t have the means to stick a fresh cork in it, so I see this one being consumed in the near future. Maybe I’ll taste it, and stick one of those RePour caps on it (h/t to @klezman for reminding me that I have some of those.)
First of all, I’m dreadfully sorry that this is occurring. Between Casemates and WineSmith, rest assured that we will make it up to anyone who’s been affected.
There are several issues here. Ron Q’s advice is spot on. In general, wines don’t suffer nearly as badly from a freeze-thaw as they do from heat. However, once the cork has been bridged, one needs to re-cork with a fresh closure or the wine will not age properly.
Obviously, freezing is an extreme form of cold stabilization. I generally try to avoid excessive CS for two reasons. The first is that I think potassium is good for body and flavor persistence in the finish. Secondly, in structured wines such as my reds and Faux Chablis, CS tends to entrain structure in the crystals, which contain visible pigment or tannin. The removal of structure decreases mouthfeel, but also diminishes aromatic integration and therefore soulfulness. These are subtle effects, but real.
So, where does this leave me? At least one bottle apparently experienced excessive cold stabilization, aka it froze. From Clark’s comment, I gather that this will subtly affect the wine, decreasing mouthfeel, diminishing aromatic integration, which will make the wine less soulful (not sure if I’d ever notice the reduced soul, but it does make me wonder).
Even if only one bottle’s cork was affected, all of them were subject to the same temps. So should I anticipate that they won’t age as well as they would if this hadn’t happened? If so, what’s a fair recourse?