Bright white cherry aromas have been joined by savory bouquet elements of leather, tobacco and Romano through 72 months’ aging in neutral French oak. Its silky tannins and lively minerality are characteristic of Diamond Ridge’s high altitude, lake cooled granite terroir.
The 2010 was harvested on October 16, fermented traditionally with extended maceration, and aged in neutral cooperage for 72 months to resolve its incredible reductive strength. For roundness and fat, we co-fermented with 22% Merlot. Age has added a tobacco bouquet to its spicy cherry and rosemary aromas which resemble a well-aged Graves. The resulting palate possesses a sweet core of fruit which is framed by soft tannins and a bright mineral finish.
A perfect accompaniment to steak béarnaise or wild mushroom dishes, the wine loves open fires and Bruce Springsteen’s Jungleland.
Vintage and Winemaker Notes
Selected by Dan Berger as the best Cabernet Franc in the United States and entered in the Six Nations New World Wine Competition among the top 100 wines to represent the U.S. Cabernet Franc is the supreme manifestation of finesse, energy and depth.
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.
Clark Smith is an MIT drop-out who wandered out to California in 1972 and sold wine retail in the Bay Area for several years, where he acquired a love of Bordeaux, Burgundy and all things French and observed first hand the California winery explosion in the 1970s. After a three year stint at Veedercrest Vineyards, he secured enology training at UC Davis and spent the 1980s as founding winemaker for The R.H. Phillips Vineyard in Yolo County. In 1990, he founded WineSmith Consulting and patented a group of new winemaking techniques involving reverse osmosis, spinning off Vinovation, which went on to become the world’s largest wine production consulting firm over its 17-year history. Frustrated with California’s winemaking trends, Clark started WineSmith Cellars in 1993 as a teaching winery to make Eurocentric wines to explore traditions beyond the mainstream, expanding for his winemaking clients the range of possibility for California fruit.
Choosing to create long-term partnerships with committed growers rather than growing his own grapes, Clark has become a renowned expert on Cabernet Franc, having vinified twenty vintages from a wide variety of sites. Teaching at Napa Valley College gave him access to the Student Vineyard for Faux Chablis and his Pauillac-style $100 “Crucible” Cabernet Sauvignon. From Renaissance Vineyards in North Yuba County he has made a sulfite-free Roman Syrah and also produces a Pinot Noir from Fiddlestix Vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills in a delicate, age-worthy Côtes de Beaune style. These wines are vinified in an ancient beat-up warehouse in Sebastopol, California.
WineSmith wines are noted for their longevity, classic balance, structural integrity, minerality and understated soulfulness. They often are aged extensively prior to release. When drinking a WineSmith wine, always ask yourself “What is this wine trying to teach me?” Clark is a vocal advocate of living soil and graceful longevity, and generally avoids excessive oak, alcohol, or extended hang-time. He is not shy about employing new tools when they are needed, such as alcohol adjustment to bring fruit into balance or micro-oxygenation to build refined structure, but always fully discloses techniques which are controversial and is outspoken in explaining his rationale.
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FedEx Ground: Monday, May 28th - Thursday, May 31st
We haven’t had the 2010 yet, but the 2007 and 2008 are truly stunners. I like to pull one out casually when we have people over who know about wine, and they always do a double take after the first sip. Really great juice and I’m sure this is no different!
@moonhat@rjquillin@Winedavid49 He means maybe I’m not used to the new schedule. Woot offers rolled over at Midnight Texas time (10PM Pacific), while Casemates rolls over at Midnight Eastern time (9PM Pacific).
@winesmith A new batch with additional barreling? No way. I was going to say I’ve got enough of this vintage now given my over-full storage. But now you’re making me rethink that sentiment.
As always, love your CF. I’m still amazed from the Roman Reserve experiment you had me do a year or so ago. Truly amazing.
Several factors combine to make the Diamond Ridge site uniquely suited to Cab Franc. Its high altitude and remote location give us thin, clean air which bathes the grapes in UV, especially because the volcanic soil holds back the canopy and exposes the fruit. This has several beneficial effects. It dispels the bell pepper (pyrazine) character one commonly sees in “down stream” Cab Franc.
It also stimulates color and flavor metabolism. Good color is essential to proper texture, as it limits the degree of polymerization of tannins and prevents coarse harshness, instead providing silky, refined texture and great aromatic integration.
The downside of direct sunlight is that it can burn off aromatics, which does happen in some Lake County areas such as the Red Hills. But this vineyard is located on a peninsula right sticking out into Clear Lake, and a lake effect breeze cools the vineyard to about 60F every day at about 3PM. As a result, the wine is intensely fruity - I call it white cherry character. There is also plenty of varietal cinnamon and the surround droughty herbs such as rosemary, bay laurel and sage embellish the aromatic profile.
The volcanic soil also imparts a lively energy in the back palate. We call this “minerality.” We don’t yet understand what causes it, but we observe that this characteristic gives the wine surprising longevity but also can lead to tight, reduced aromatics and aggressive tannins in youth, thus requiring extensive aging for best results.
This is a medium-bodied wine with less muscle than its descendant Cabernet Sauvignon but with more depth and raciness, reminiscent of Graves in Bordeaux. I co-fermented it with some Merlot for fatness and color, which takes it in the direction of St. Emilion.
This wine loves grilled duck breast, steak bernaise, stinky cheeses and wild mushrooms. I like to get it in the dark, play Jungleland at high volume in the presence of something on fire.
Right. I’m a wine woot aficionado for over a decade, but a lab rat I’m not. I know what I love but can’t tell plum from chocolate in the flavor profile. Sweet, sour I can do. Barnyard I can do. But licorice is beyond me.
Wine Smith’s Cabernet Franc is one of my favorite and I have the 2010 and the 2007 squirreled away from daughters and other natural predators. So, I’m biased. After a chance encounter with Wine Smith’s Cabernet Franc and learning that this is mostly used as a tiny addition of main stream varietals, I was fascinated and tried Cabernet Franc all over US and Europe. Never found a more pleasing Cabernet Franc than from this vintner.
Very surprised to receive a bottle of the 2010. Skipped lunch and went home to sample. Opened at 1pm. Cork not stained deep red. Wine is dark Opaque color. When held up to light, the edge was pigeon blood ruby red (“Asking to see the Pigeon’s blood is like asking to see the face of God”… Google this). Strong lovely aroma. Could smell the alcohol. Mid-level tannins… did not pucker the mouth but noticeable. Medium bodied. Legs far apart sliding slowly (wine, not me). On swishing, cherry. Long long finish. Paired very well with Govt Mule’s cover of Pink Floyd’s Shine on You Crazy Diamond Part 2.
Bottle left on counter. Back at 8.30pm. Aroma subdued, no alcohol. Tannins just a tad less. God’s face not visible as sun has set. Sipped better after 7 hours of standing on counter. Just so very good. Not fruit forward. Long finish continues. The short journey to the bottom of the bottle started with the first sip.
Being Indian (from Mumbai) I don’t do oysters and steak and hamburgers. But did do curry/rice. The wine did not do much for the curry so stopped eating. Continued drinking as it warmed the soul and gave me courage to ask boss for a raise, so I can order a case or two.
Thanks for a wonderful description. The brand new-looking cork is because the wine was just bottled after 7 years in neutral barrel. For matches with Indian cuisine, I would try tandoori chicken or lamb saag with not too much heat or salt.
@MerlynXLII Joisey! Oh yeah, what eggzit? I’m from Westfiel, myself. BTW, there is some really good wine being made in NJ these days. Check out Hawk Haven down in Cape May. That Quill be some righteous Meritage.
@Mark_L Ah, Mark would be my Seabreeze Jr. High chum from Daytona. Go Sandcrabs! I’m going to organize a vertical tasting of six vintages of Faux Chablis and four vintages of Crucible in the Chicago area if we can scare up 12 people. Interested?
@winesmith Sounds like a good amount of interest. As the time approaches, if there are still some openings I’m sure we can reach out beyond the Casemates community and round up a few more willing to imbibe.
@Mark_L@winesmith. My wife and I are from Madison, WI with parents from Chicago (babysitters). We would not miss this opportunity. We love your Crucible and Faux Chablis. How can we find out if this is will happen?
@Mark_L Based on this response, we are definitely going to do it. I’m thinking sometime in the Fall. I’ll set up a doodle poll to see what date works for the most people. If you’re interested, please whisper me your contact information or email to WineSmith@winemaking411.com. If you have an idea for a venue for the event, please let me know. I’ll include a bit of a Wine and Music pairing demo; the price will be $200 a seat.
I figure we’ll do an early evening and then find someplace nice nearby where we can discuss the concepts in my book, Postmodern Winemaking over dinner.
I have a case of each of these wines in the library, so I’d be happy to stage a similar event anywhere there’s interest. Minneapolis is certainly an interesting possibility, and I’d love to get with Chip Green’s homies in Ohio again.
@karenhynes@chipgreen I picked up the CF and some Clayhouse from Mark L. Between you and Chip Green I am going to need another cooling unit for the basement, Be prepared for an increased storage fee. (LOL)
@rmm989 The winery can ship to NJ and most ther States that aren’t served by Casemates. Just call Sandra at 707-332-5552 btwn 9AM and 4PM. She will heat your ccard back up so your wallet pocket doesn’t catch a chill.
@Winedavid49 – shipping question for you. Since it appears that the shipping will occur around Memorial Day, will you be ensuring it doesn’t sit for an extra day in a truck or in a warehouse in the heat if it’s hot around that time? I know you all are smart about the logistics, but wanted to double-check.
Also mad props on this deal. Great value on some excellent wine. Nicely done!
@jeffreywsnyder@vaaccess I took a gamble and ordered a case to Dallas, but it shipped Thursday before Memorial Day and still hasn’t arrived. Shame on me for going for it, Winesmith was too tempting, but also shame on Casemates for shipping at the worst possible time.
@johnnelson7333@ScottW58@vaaccess Mine was delivered last Friday as well, so 7 days transit. Confirmed with Fedex that it wasn’t in refrigeration on the way. Luckily I didn’t see any cork pop or seepage, but I’m not going to risk anymore summer orders. Hard to hold off on these deals, but I’ll be back in Nov.
@derekvalz@johnnelson7333@ScottW58 I dunno…wine that ships to Total wine, any grocery store, etc is put through as much or more heat I would imagine. I’d be more curious to have evidence of what heat/temps are to be avoided for a real impact to occur. Just as bottle shock was debunk, I’m very curious to know what thresholds can’t be exceeded so I can know what I should/shouldn’t avoid. Probably worth a new thread on the topic. I’m sincerely very curious.
In for a case. Long time Wooter, first order here. Sorry it took so long. Really love Clark’s wines. He’s such a friendly and informative chap also. By the way, can we get some Roman Reserve or Crucible here sometime…?
@RexSeven Roman Reserve is a possibility. It is in fact the same vintage, variety and provenance as this wine, but made special for Two Jakes according to Roman winemaking principles, and came out entirely different. I like them both about equally. This is the conventional version of the same wine, so it’s very interesting to compare the two side by side. Let me talk to Jake Stephens and WineDavid and see what can be arranged.
As for Crucible, faggedabouddit. The vineyard is no longer available, so 2007 was our last vintage. We have only a few cases left in the library of all four vintages, and I’m reserving that for a vertical tasting tour of these United States throughout the coming year.
Do not fret. There is much amazing stuff in the pipeline.
I was planning on sitting by a fire on the patio this evening. Now, I’ll be sitting by the fire, with a glass of WineSmith Cab Franc, listening to Jungleland…to celebrate the case I just bought!!!
As WineWoot wound down, I wasn’t sure if I would have the opportunity to buy great wines from CaseMates on a regular basis…so I REALLY stocked up. Well the deals just keep coming and coming…I just need to increase my consumption to keep up with the supply!!!
@winesmith Yeah, I thought about that too! Alternative is to bring friends into the mix…I’ve already reached out to see who wants to join me and your Cab Franc on the patio tonight! Gonna be a fun evening!
@funnywontons@losthighwayz Sure, 3-3-6 seems fine to me. It is supposed to arrive between Monday and Thursday of next week… should I just reach out when it arrives? How do you want me to reach you guys?
@InFrom I should mention that we will also be putting together a vertical Faux Chablis / Crucible tasting in Manhattan in September. This is $2,000 worth of wine, plus the hall. We will charge $200 a seat, so save your pennies. Anyone interested, please let us know.
We can always make room for some of Clark’s wine. Sadly, at the old place our order for the Cab Franc that was last offered was DOA with a wet package that our local office called me about before delivery and sent it back. Luckily, we did get some CF in the mystery box, and picked up the Grenache via Casemates-- definitely in for 12! (Thanks Clark & winedavid!)
@klezman@losthighwayz@rjquillin if no one else claims on some I’ll potentially grab 2 from rjq. WS CF’s aren’t usually my go to CF’s, as I find them to be very unique. I have to agree with Clark that drinking this one under the stars with a fire and some music is quite an enjoyable experience.
OK, I am in for a case. I am still pretty new to this wine world, and since joining casemates I have started to expand my tasting journey. I went back and looked at some of the comments on the old wine.woot site, and the one thing that struck me was the level of love and care this winemaker brings to his craft. That alone sold me; I can’t wait for the journey to continue!
@chipgreen@mrn1@shrimp74 happy to join the group! Have eyed joining a Wooster gathering for some time, maybe we’ll hit up the next one. Case ordered, not sure how this sharing thing works, but will figure it out.
@davidd13 It’s probably been in a refrigerated truck for five days, making its way from CA to a fedex hub closer to you, where the fedex trail begins. Is that consistent with the shipping info you’re seeing?
The shipping advice was created on 5/25; it shows being picked up in Windsor, CA on 5/30; it was in Tracy, CA today. Is Windsor where the packages are stored prior to shipping? If that is the case, I am sure they were protected.
Well, color me very unhappy. My shipment arrived a little after 5 pm Tuesday evening after sitting in Kernersville, NC for three days. After sitting in my 74 degree house for about an hour I opened the box and Styrofoam packaging and was alarmed the first bottle I pulled out was warm to the touch. Using a infrared thermometer, the bottle read 86 degrees. The cardboard box registered 76 degrees. I am by no means a wine expert, actually still pretty much a novice, but from what I have read I don’t think this is good for the wine.
Having said that, I opened a bottle, poured a glass and let it sit for a while. The cork was hardly stained, but I seem to recall something about this particular batch being bottled a little more recently. The wine is 80 degrees now. It certainly did not turn to vinegar, and is in fact a bit more complex than others I have just started to appreciate. Quite a sense of alcohol, which does not surprise me at the temperature it is at.
I intend to leave the rest of the bottle drop at least to room temperature, and try it again tomorrow. My concern, and where I would appreciate input from everyone who has years of experience, is do you think the wine has been compromised? Not knowing exactly what to expect to begin with, I am not sure I can really tell for sure. From what I have tasted so far, I really think it has potential.
One lesson learned I guess is to defer ordering any more wine until the cooler weather comes back, since it has to travel 3,000 miles to get here, and apparently it is not temperature controlled all the way.
@davidd13@ScottW58 Of course he did not know that until he opened the case. Let us know how customer service handles this. Why did it sit in Kernersville for 3 days? Was this a case of no Monday delivery?
@davidd13@jmdavidson1@ScottW58@Winedavid49 I have a similar story. Mine traveled 10 days across I-10 from CA to FL had be in FL for 3 days prior to delivery at 4:30. Warm bottles. Definitely not the same summer shipping from WW, that was always 2 day air direct to FL and got them in the morning. My Spaniard hasn’t shipped yet, if it is going to ship by covered wagon also, perhaps I should cancel and save money until October.
FWIW, my WineSmith CF arrived last Friday. We had some high temperatures around Chicago early last week (which had me concerned) but things cooled off later in the week. I had my package held at a local grocery store and picked it up about 5:30pm. Immediately upon arriving home I checked the internal temperature of the box and it was at 78 degrees, so it doesn’t appear that the wine got cooked.
@davidd13 I’m no expert (nor do I play one on the Internet), but your Google results will probably match mine. The question is “how high how long?” with regard to potential damage. Hopefully the answer will be “not enough”.
@davidd13 I don’t actually think that this temperature during shipping is a death knell for wine. This would be a little more risky since it is 8 years old. Younger wine I think holds up better and it might just be the new and fresh cork.
That said, I NEVER open a wine up that I get shipped to me within 1 week of receiving. I prefer to wait two weeks. When I first started getting wine online I would open a bottle I was excited to try when I got it and be underwhelmed. Decide the rest of it was an end of the night party wine. Then when that night came and I opened a well rested bottle be wowed. I can’t tell you how important the rest / settling is in my opinion.
@RexSeven Thanks for your insight on when to open up a wine after shipping. I thought about that after I opened the first bottle, but it was so warm to the touch that I sort of panicked and just had to find out if it had turned to vinegar! I am still learning every day, and this was another chapter in my education. I, too, was concerned about the age of the wine, but I think I dodged a bullet there. Thanks for taking the time to weigh in with your advice, I truly appreciate it!
Good day. this is good feedback. Memorial day did delay some packages. We did try to offset by timing the shipments. We start full fledged summer shipping next week. we are taking precautions, as an interim step, with Amavi and Onesta to upgrade service to higher temperature regions.
So, to follow up on yesterdays tasting, I recorked the bottle under vacuum last night and opened it up this evening. Dark ruby red, and some legs. After pouring, the first smell seemed slightly vinegary, but that could very well be mind over matter. Within minutes the bouquet quickly settled to musty and somewhat spicy.
The character of the wine changed dramatically from yesterday evening. Now there is a very forward sense of alcohol, and the complexity is gone. Not exactly flat, but one dimensional compared to last night. It is also very “astringent”; is there such a thing. That sensation remains long after swallowing on the back of the throat, which is something I also noticed last night. Not necessarily unpleasant, but different. I ended up having this wine with a strip steak and salad, and it paired pretty nicely.
So, I guess as a result of my concern about possible damage to this wine in transit, I have offered my first “rattage”. I have never tried this variety before, but compared to Cabernet Savignon’s I have tasted in the past this seems drier, and leaves an odd aftertaste that lingers. Again, not unpleasant, but almost a tad bitter, with a hint of spice. And a very real sense of alcohol. My palette is not well enough developed to tell for sure, but I do not feel the wine is ruined. I like scotch, and this reminds me a bit of that. An acquired taste. So, not so bad. My education continues!
Popped one tonight. Tight upon opening. It’s in good condition, no concerns there. After 60 min there’s bittersweet chocolate, earth, mild acidity, tart black fruits. This has a left bank Bordeaux profile to me. Would be a fun stump the chump wine served blind.
Opened a second bottle, later this evening. Very fruit forward and nowhere near the alcohol sensation. Complex again, and quite delicious at a lower temperature. Guess this wine does not store well after opening.
@davidd13 “Guess this wine does not store well after opening.” That would be contrary to my (somewhat limited) experience with Clark’s wines, as I have found them to hold up very well over multiple days after opening.
IMHO I would agree. After an hour I’m getting mature Lynch Bages on the nose. Like early 90’s/late 80’s. I think '89 was the last one I was fortunate to enjoy. I’ll see how it develops tomorrow. It’s a lovely wine.