La Jota Howell Mountain Cabernet Franc 2015
Cabernet Franc grapes for this wine come from an exceptional block of our estate vineyard, right next to our century-old stone winery on Howell Mountain. Planted in 1976, the vineyard was grafted onto St. George rootstock and escaped the ravages of phylloxera to become one of the oldest Cabernet Franc vineyards in Napa County. The old vines self-regulate, so we don’t need to thin the crop, pull leaves or otherwise adjust the grape-to-canopy ratio. Not many wineries produce Cabernet Franc, and this wine definitively captures the essence of our La Jota terroir. We also source grapes for this wine from portions of the W.S. Keyes Vineyard, a mile down the road, where more hours of sunshine benefit this Cabernet Franc.
The wine has an approachable minerality followed by herbal aromatics. Notes of anise, blackberry, and black tea are carried by an impressive mouthfeel and long drawn out finish.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
La Jota wines are handcrafted at our original 1898 fieldstone winery and hillside cave. From the low yielding vines of 28 mountain acres, they produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and our crown jewel, the annual Heritage Release Cabernet Sauvignon (formerly the Anniversary Release).
While growing grapes in the nutrient-lean, volcanic soils of the La Jota estate is a challenge, the rewards are undeniable. Highly concentrated flavors and muscular tannins slowly mature to perfection, while the cool winds, diurnal temperature swings and high altitude keep the grape acids impeccably balanced, revealing the distinctive voice of our estate.
Viticulturist, Mariano Navarro, and winemaker, Christopher Carpenter, understand the meticulous requirements of mountain farming and mountain winemaking. Their goal is to gently tame tannins while allowing the intriguing mineral, spice and sweet forest loam characters unique to our estate to enhance the complexity of our opulent fruit.
The result? La Jota wines offer elegance and cellar worthiness.
Winemaking in Howell Mountain was abandoned during Prohibition, and wasn’t reawakened until the arrival of Randy Dunn, a talented winemaker famous for the success of Caymus in the 1970s and 1980s. In the early eighties, he set his sights on the Napa hills and subsequently astonished the wine world with a Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. Shortly thereafter Howell Mountain became officially recognized as the first sub-region of Napa Valley (1983).
With vineyards at 1,400 to 2,000 feet in elevation, they predominantly sit above the fog line but the days in Howell Mountain remain cooler than those in the heart of the valley, giving the grapes a bit more time on the vine.
The Howell Mountain AVA includes 1,000 acres of vineyards interspersed by forestlands in the Vaca Mountains. The soils, shallow and infertile with good drainage, are volcanic ash and red clay and produce highly concentrated berries with thick skins. The resulting wines are full of structure and potential to age.
The subtler and more delicate of the Cabernets, Cabernet Franc is a proud parent of Cabernet Sauvignon. While both are important grapes in modern day, high quality Bordeaux, interestingly, Cabernet Franc most likely originated from the Basque region of France sometime during the middle 1600’s. Today Cabernet Franc produces outstanding single varietal wines across the wine producing world, with some of its most classic examples from France’s Loire Valley, in the regions of Chinon, Bourgueil and Saumur-Champigny. Outside of France, Cabernet Franc performs quite well in parts of California, New York and Virginia. It is also a great blending grape.
In the Glass
Cabernet Franc typically tastes of red raspberries, cherries and herbs, with a stunning perfume of violets, tobacco and spice.
Mouthwatering acidity makes Cabernet Franc an incredibly food-friendly wine, helping to cut through the richness of fatty meat dishes. It especially shines in tandem with lamb, and its affinity for the spice cabinet allows it to pair perfectly with Chinese dishes prepared with Szechuan pepper and five-spice.
One of California's best-kept secrets is the Happy Canyon appellation of Santa Barbara. Here Cabernet Franc shines as a single varietal wine or in blends, expressing sumptuous fruit, savory aromas and polished tannins.