Cabernet Franc Scores Big at Premiere Napa Valley: Montesquieu Winery Shines Spotlight on Napa's Rising Star Grape

Mar 24, 2011, 06:00 ET from Montesquieu Winery

NAPA VALLEY, Calif., March 24, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Montesquieu Winery recently acquired one of the top lots of the day at last month's Premiere Napa Valley Auction, the event that serves as a barometer of the domestic wine market and a window into emergent winemaking trends.  Montesquieu Winery viewed this lot of 2009 Levy & McClellan Napa Cabernet Franc – from husband-and-wife winemaking team Bob Levy (of Harlan and Bond) and Martha McClellan (of Sloan and Blankiet) – as the most impressive of the tasting.  This view was shared by many others, whose vigorous bidding propelled the wine to the highest sale price for a non-Cabernet Sauvignon in the Auction's history.


This success reflects the emergence of Cabernet Franc as one of the stars of Napa Valley.  Long-known for brilliance in Bordeaux and the Loire, Cabernet Franc is now making waves domestically.  One of Cabernet Franc's leading advocates in Napa is renowned winemaker Stephane Derenoncourt, whose new range of wines, Derenoncourt California, features a 100% Cabernet Franc from Coombsville.  The 85-case 2007 vintage was released to the winery's mailing list earlier this month.  

"I always dreamed of vinifying a pure Cabernet Franc," says Derenoncourt. But finding top-flight Cab Franc in Napa wasn't easy.  Stephane and his partner in the project, Montesquieu Winery Founder Fonda Hopkins, scoured the region before finally discovering the ideal block of vines.  Hopkins, who has used the varietal in Montesquieu wines for years, laments its rarity, noting "Last year in Napa, only one ton of Cab Franc was harvested for every 33 tons of Cabernet Sauvignon."  

Derenoncourt says this is because "Cabernet Franc is a difficult varietal.  It can yield the best or worst of wines; its cultivation doesn't allow mediocrity.  So that's why many winemakers hate it, yet it is adored by great wine lovers."  Hopkins agrees: "At its best, Cab Franc is totally captivating.  It's a conversation-stopping wine, the kind people obsess over when they discover it."

The varietal enjoys a bright future in the U.S., according to Hopkins.  "We at Montesquieu Winery have observed that as wine lovers continue to explore the wine world beyond brand names and ratings, demand increases for unique wines of rich character like Cabernet Franc."

For twenty years, Montesquieu Winery has provided wine enthusiasts with an experience of rare, hand-crafted wines from some of the best producers and vineyards worldwide. A Montesquieu wine broker works directly with each client on an individualized basis to source wines that meet the client's unique tastes and needs.

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SOURCE Montesquieu Winery