2007 cc: Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 Jacob Franklin Mon Chou #50 Napa Valley

2007 Domaine de Piaugier Gigondas

2005 Consilience Syrah Camp 4 Vineyard



2007 cc: Cabernet Sauvignon – $17.09


My comments

This was offered as an e-mail special at the local wine store.  I had to grab a few bottles, how bad could a 2007 Napa Cabernet be when you can get it for well under $20.  I figured this would be a good Cabernet for week day evenings.  According to the producer, “In 2007 we have found ourselves with the unique opportunity to work with one of the world’s most special vineyards and wineries. We are not allowed to tell you exactly who, but we can say it comes from the world-class hillsides above one of those quaint little towns along highway 29 in the Napa.”  I have no idea the source they used, but in the past the wine met my goal of being a decent week night cab.


Winery history

We have our own opinions on the way to make great wine.  Great land – excellent start.  Great juice – pretty essential.  Great weather – yes, please.  And trust us, we have all of the above going on – but we believe that one of the most important parts of making wine is the blending.  This is the part where you either shoot the stars and realize all the splendor of your vinous dreams or, alternatively, you can take some amazing ingredients and just muck it all up.  It is actually not unlike cooking.  How much fun is a dry-aged rib eye steak cooked till it’s grey? You like soggy pasta? How about that last fusion dish of blueberries and lobster? Well winemaking is no different.  Once the different pieces are made, they need to be put together in the right way to realize their true potential as one.  One where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and not some put-it-all-together preponderance of confusion.


This is where we get off in the creation of our new wines CC: Chardonnay and Cabernet.


This is an amazing time in the wine world – never has there been more great wine and never has there been more interest on our shores in drinking the good stuff.  Given that we spend our lives immersed in said stuff and manage to fly a few hundred thousand miles a year chasing it, one might assume that we’d have bumped in to some very special pieces along the way.


After having seen some really compelling possibilities and fueled by our motto of wine as a grocery, not a luxury we have decided to go for it.


So, we’re taking on two icons, two California classics; Chardonnay and Cabernet.  Long the standard bearers of quality in Cali, these two have become perhaps a bit big for their britches, a tad expensive and those oaky, heavy styles even a bit long in the tooth.  We want to be the opposite of all that is wrong with most of these wines and instead do right by Chardonnay and Cabernet in the GoldenState.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright ruby red color.  The very appealing nose has cassis, dried herbs, cedar, baking spices, smoke, a touch of licorice, and some cherry.  This had medium body, fairly integrated tannins, and good acidity.  Smooth fruit and spice on the palate with a bit of dried herbs coming in on the back end.  Nice length on the finish but some spicy oak pops out.  A nice week night cabernet.  Not a lot of complexity, but tasty.  I’d drink this up before the fruit fades a bit and makes the oak even more prominent.  (87 pts)

2007 cc Cabernet Sauvignon




2007 Jacob Franklin Mon Chou #50 Napa Valley – $30.00


My comments

This is quickly turning into one of my favorite wines.  I bought a case and this is the third bottle I have opened.  This is a blend of 50% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Malbec, and 6% Petit Verdot.  The number in the wine name indicates the percentage of Cabernet Franc in the blend.


Winery history

As many of you know, when we started making our own wines in 1987, we named the tiny, 200 case operation after our daughter, Elyse.  Not wanting to leave our son, Jake, out of loop, we eventually named our Rhone blend after him – anyone remember “Jake’s Cuvee”?  It wasn’t enough, because at the ripe age of eight Jake asked, “When do I get my own label without her name on it?”  Good point!  And as parents not wanting to show favoritism, why not create a namesake label for him as well?


Jacob Franklin Cellars debut bottling was in 1998 and we fondly and literally refer to it as the brother label of Elyse Winery.  By this time, we had gained access to small quantities of extremely allocated fruit from some highly desirable vineyards in the valley and this label was the perfect place to showcase them along with our only estate wine, Hoffman Lane Cabernet Sauvignon.


Jacob Franklin Cellars is focused on small production, low yield, vineyard designate wines from NapaValley.  Due to the extremely limited production, these wines are available exclusively through the winery, website, and wine club.


Oh Brother!


My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly deep ruby to maroon color.  The outstanding nose has cassis, cedar, dried herbs, licorice, baking spices, smoke, tobacco, minerals, dark bittersweet chocolate, and cherries.  This had medium body with fairly solid, ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  The palate has a wonderful blend of fruit and savory elements with everything in balance and harmonious.  The long, lingering finish has nice spicy cassis and dried herbs with just the right amount of spicy oak adding to the profile without being too obtrusive.  I love this wine.  (95 pts)

2007 Jacob Franklin Mon Chou #50 Napa Valley




2007 Domaine de Piaugier Gigondas – $16.99


My comments

I ordered this in late 2008 from Garagiste.  By the time it arrived in their Washington warehouse all my other wines had shipped.  I cut down on my Garagiste purchases, so I received free storage for a couple of years.  I figured the wine was approaching a nice drinking window, so I made sure to order enough wine that these bottles would fill a case and be shipped.  This is my second of 6 bottles I purchased.  To me, Gigondas is a very unheralded area in the Rhone region of France.  These wines usually have a bit more richness than a Cotes du Rhone but in a lot of cases, they only cost a few dollars more.


Winery history

Alphonse Vautour, Jean-Marc Autran’s great-grandfather, made his wine in a cellar at the top of a little hill called Les Briguières, to the south of Sablet where he owned six hectares of vines.  The winery was named Ténébi, after the previous owner of the house.


Alphonse had to go down the hill, his mules loaded with barrels, to wait for the wine merchant to come by.  If the merchant didn’t come, or didn’t buy his wine, he had to climb back up with his reluctant mules.  So, in 1947 he decided to build a new winery on the road below, where the Piaugier cellars are to this day.


Jean-Marc Autran, Alphonse’s great-grandson, took over the winery from his father Marc in 1985.  He acquired more vineyards and, with the assistance of his wife Sophie, started bottling and developed sales.  The winery soon became too small and they extended it in 1995 to enable them to age and store the wines in the best possible conditions.


In homage to this family history, Jean-Marc has dedicated a wine to his ancestor, the Réserve Alphonse Vautour, which is made from grapes grown in his original fields.


Today, Piaugier wines are sold as far away as the United States, Japan and Brazil.


Much more information is available at http://www.domainedepiaugier.com/en_index.htm


My Tasting Note

The wine is a bit darker than a medium ruby color.  The very appealing nose has raspberries, baking spices, cherries, white pepper, dried herbs, fresh wild flowers, smoke, and a touch of earthy underbrush.  This has medium body, fairly solid tannins, and good acidity.  Spicy fruit hits the palate first, followed by nice dried herbs, pepper, and a touch of scorched earth.  The finish has good length and leans more on the savory elements with the fruit providing nice background sweetness.  This is drinking very nicely today but can be enjoyed over the next few years.  (91 pts)

2007 Domaine de Piaugier Gigondas




I like pairing grilled pork chops with a nice wine from France’s Rhone region.  Tonight we grilled pork chops and asparagus and had a little potato salad.   The smoke from the grilled meat brought out the smoky element in the wine.

Pork chop dinner




2005 Consilience Syrah Camp 4 Vineyard – $14.24


My comments

When it comes to big, brawny, take no prisoner wines, this 16.5% ABV wine, is a heavy weight.  If it’s at all possible, the massive wine actually conceals most of the alcohol but a touch does peak out from around the corners.  I was able to snag a case of this for under $15 a bottle and it is an enjoyable bottle of wine, every once in a while.  There is absolutely nothing subtle about this wine and a lot of people will hate it even without trying it.


Winery history

We are fortunate to source our grapes from many of the most desirable vineyards in Santa BarbaraCounty and work with some of the most reputable growers in the area to help showcase the unique qualities of each these special vineyards.


Winemaker and co-owner, Brett Escalera works closely with the growers and in the vineyards to produce beautiful wines with a richness and elegance we hope to share all around the world.  While Consilience focuses loosely on Rhone varietals and few others we couldn’t resist, Consilience’s sister winery, Tre Anelli wines is inspired by the traditions of Italy and Spain with a Santa BarbaraCounty flare.


Whether you’re a fan of rich Rhone style wines or have a liking for Italian and Spanish style wines we hope both Consilience and Tre Anelli wines capture your attention!


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep purple color with a touch of bricking at the edge.  The dark and inviting nose has blackberries, dying wood embers, black pepper, blueberries, melted licorice, smoked meat, forest floor, dark bittersweet chocolate, and vanilla.  This has a full body, fairly solid ripe tannins, and decent acidity.  This is so big on the palate, you almost instinctively start to chew it.  On the palate there are layer upon layer of fruit, dark chocolate, and meaty elements with more alcohol poking through than I remember from past bottles.  The finish has decent length but could use a bit more acidity to help support the massive flavors.  Based on this bottle the wine has peaked and may be starting its long, gradual decline.  Probably needs consumed over the next two years.  (88 pts)

2005 Consilience Syrah Camp 4 Vineyard




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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.



Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.



All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.