Wed 31 Dec 2008
… I’ll post an entry about these sparkling wines from Frank Family Vineyards in Napa Valley (separate from the “12 Days of Christmas” series) because the quality is extraordinary. These sparking wines are available only at the winery or through the winery’s website, so if you live in one of the states in which direct shipment is permitted — and it should be permitted in all states — here’s your chance. Each is produced in amounts of about 400 cases.
LL took one sniff and sip of the non-vintage Frank Family Vineyards Blanc de Noirs, Napa Valley, and said, “Can this be our house champagne?” I couldn’t disagree. Made completely from pinot noir grapes, it offers an enticing color of tarnished gold infused with pale silvery-peach; the bubbles thrust upward in a constant stream. Aromas of fresh biscuits, hazelnuts and toasted almonds, lime blossom, cinnamon toast and orange zest are irresistible. In the mouth, this sparkling wine is very crisp, very taut, to the point of austerity. It presents that paradox of warm toasty spice and yeasty elements with cool finesse and nuance. It’s almost creamy yet vibrant with acidity, and in the finish, limestone and grapefruit take over, for an exquisite frisson of spare elegance. Exceptional, balletic, inspiring, and a steal for about $35.
The Frank Family Brut 1997, Carneros, a blend of 60 percent pinot noir and 40 percent chardonnay, rested on the lees for eight years before being disgorged and readied for release. This is a substantial sparkling wine, dense with dimension and detail, yet never heavy, never obvious. It’s very individual, with that tannic sense of hazelnut and almond skin. a whiff of resin, an astringent herbal note, like dried thyme or rosemary, but with fatness of hazelnuts, the richness of fresh-baked bread and nutty yeast. it’s certainly full-bodied yet with real acidic edge and effervescent vibrancy, bright, crisp and clean. It might be lacking a tad in the finesse department, but it’s quite impressive, regal, dignified, except for a wild, untamed note of happy eccentricity. You sort of have to smell and taste it to believe it. Excellent. About $65.
So, it’s a little after 6 on New Year’s Eve. This is my final post for 2008. Happy New Year! Keep those cards and letters coming in for 2009. And … be careful out there tonight.