Each week I pick out one wine to highlight as my wine of the week.  This wine may be an outstanding wine, a great value or just something very interesting.



Hoffman lane cab outlines.ai


“A meal with wine is dining – it’s a conversation, an event. It’s what wine is all about.”

Ray Coursen, Winemaker & Owner




Elyse has been one of my favorite wineries since my first visit there in 2001.  I was talking to an employee at Merryvale about the style of wines I liked and that I was on the lookout for leads to some nice Petite Sirah based wines.  All he said was, “You have to checkout Elyse”.  As soon as we got back in the car, I pulled out my guidebook of wineries, and looked them up.  According to the guide, they required a reservation so I called them.  About 30 minutes later we were met by a very gracious and inviting tasting room employee.  We spent the next hour trying just about everything they made.  We left with several bottles for the week and ordered a case to be shipped back home.


Since that day, Elyse has always been the first winery we visit when we make it to Napa.  I always have several bottles of Elyse wine in my cellar.



The Winery

Winemaking is cooking without a flame. Our winemaking philosophy at Elyse in Napa Valley is similar to the approach of a great chef who carefully prepares artisan grown ingredients to bring each layer of flavor to the table. Long term alliances with our growers form the cornerstone to our portfolio of vineyard driven wines that possess an unfaltering affinity for pairing with food.



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 Napa Valley.  Due to the extremely limited production, these wines are available exclusively through the winery, website, and wine club.


Oh Brother!


Much more information on Elyse and Jacob Franklin is available on their website by clicking here.



Elyse Sign


2007 Jacob Franklin Mon Chou #50 Napa Valley – SRP $55.00 (Current vintage is 2008)

“My Sweetheart”


The #50 in the wine’s name relates to the percentage of Cabernet Franc in the final blend.  As with most blends, the breakdown changes every vintage.  In this vintage the blend is 50% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Malbec and 6% Petit Verdot from the Abbey, Lynch, Morisoli and Wood Vineyards.  The grapes were picked from September 19 through October 14.  After fermentation, the wine was aged for 22 months in French oak barrels with 65% being new.


The total production was 375 cases.  The wine has 14.4% alcohol by volume and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby to maroon color.  The stunning nose has cassis, dried herbs, cedar, smoke, warm baking spices, tobacco, dusty minerals, dark chocolate and licorice.  This has a medium body with moderate to solid tannins and very good acidity.  Spices, dried herbs and cassis immediately coat the palate, slowly allowing cedar and minerals to enter the picture.  On the long finish dusty minerality and dark chocolate join the cassis and dried herbs.  This is a very nicely layered wine with plenty of savory elements that nicely balance out the rich cassis.  This wine is just entering its prime drinking window allowing it to be a showstopper through the end of the decade.  (94 pts)

2007 Jacob Franklin Mon Chou #50 Napa Valley

2007 Jacob Franklin Mon Chou #50 Napa Valley



Closing thoughts

On your next visit to the Napa Valley, I highly recommend a stop at Elyse.  They are about a mile south of Yountville just off Highway 29.  A reservation is required but the visit is well worth the phone call.  More information is available at:  http://www.elysewinery.com/visit.html




Connect with me

You can follow me on Twitter for more wine info, potential food pairings, and an occasional recipe or two.  Be warned, I’m also a sports fan and there are occasional Pittsburgh Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates tweets.  I attended the University of South Carolina, so during football season, there will also be some Gamecock posts.


If you like this post, consider joining Cliffs Wine Picks Wine Blog on Facebook and giving me a Like.





This is original to CliffsWinePicks.com.  Copyright 2014 Cliff’s Wine Picks.

All rights reserved.




***** Shameless Self Promotion *****


Here is a link to a YouTube video of me getting “coal” from Santa for being named the “Nicest Person in Social Media” in 2012.






Breaking news from Klout:




Cliff’s Wine Picks mentions or other posts

Here are posts, newsletters, blogs or other articles that either mention this site or that I have written:


Click here or on the “Cliff’s Wine Picks On Other Sites” link in the top right corner to see links to other sites that either have my reviews, my thoughts or other posts I have written.




Remember to support your local wine store!




* * * * * * * * * * * * *


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.