Tasting notes: This nimble, very well-balanced bottling is a shade richer than is the Blanc de Blancs norm and trades delicacy for a slightly fuller complement of sweet-lemon fruit and an ample measure of yeasty, brioche-like richness born of its three years of tirage time. It is, nonetheless, not overly “aged” in character and is at once layered and lively with tiny bubbles to spare, and its careful construction and marvelous combination of buoyancy and richness makes for a thoroughly satisfying Blanc de Blancs that begs a second and third glass.
Producer: Take a trip back in time at the Frank Family Vineyards. First constructed as the Larkmead Winery in 1884, the building was refinished with native sandstone from the nearby hills in 1906 and still stands tall today. The massive stone edifice is considered an archetype of California’s wine country; it appears on the National Register of Historical Places and is listed as a Point of Historical Interest in the state of California. Owner Richard Frank focuses his energies on making superb still wines. The winery produces Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Sangiovese and several distinctly different Cabernet Sauvignons. The highly regarded Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, which is barrel aged for two and one-half years, is emerging as one of the most sought after wines in the valley and their Napa Carneros Vineyards produce some of the finest Chardonnay available. Once owned by wine legend Hans Kornell, the winery originally secured its reputation with sparkling wines. Five sparkling wines are handcrafted today in the old building.
Vineyard and Winemaking: The Blanc de Blancs is hand-crafted from 100% estate-grown Chardonnay. The predominant maritime influence of the Pacific Ocean creates the cool temperature, fog and wind that make Carneros ideally suited for growing cool climate varietals. The region consists primarily of shallow and dense clay loam soils. The restricting soils result in extremely low yields, producing grapes with strong character and balanced acidity. A defining feature of the remarkable 2014 vintage is the consistent and even growing of the grapes. A warm growing season led to an early harvest. The Chardonnay for the Blanc de Blancs was hand-picked in mid-August from Frank Family’s Lewis Vineyard in Carneros. Made in the traditional Méthod Champenoise whereby the secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle. This wine aged on the lees for three years and was hand riddled before disgorgement in February 2018.
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