Jeff Keene loves to make Cabernet Franc, and it shows in this charming, balanced wine with aromas and flavors of red fruit, dusty earth, drying leaves, mocha and foresty spice. The palate is lightly creamy with moderate, powdery tannins and mid-palate richness enhanced by St. Helena AVA Merlot (8%). Drink through 2016. 500 cases; Release date TBD. 92 points
Yannick Rousseau was born in Gascony, in southwestern France. (His hometown is not far from the birthplace of the real-life d’Artagnan of The Three Musketeers fame.) Rousseau worked in Côtes de Gascogne and Madiran, and earned a Masters in Enology and Viticulture in Toulouse, before moving to Napa Valley some 15 years ago. There he was assistant winemaker at Newton Vineyards (St. Helena) under winemaker Luc Morlet and consultant Michel Rolland. Later he spent six years at the celebrated Chateau Potelle in Mount Veeder.
The best French Colombard I’ve ever had, it smells of citrus and white flowers on a Spring day. The palate is extremely well-balanced: slightly round on the attack with satisfying body but persistent acidity and a dusting of talc. (Despite its being a white grape, tannins are a hallmark of French Colombard.) Tangy flavors of grapefruit and tangelo predominate. 90 points
80% Stainless and 20% neutral barrel fermentation with native yeasts leave this wine without oak flavors, but with complexity and a gently creamy texture not found in un-oaked Chardonnay. The nose of yellow apples, apple blossoms and muted baking spice is subtle and pretty. It feels full-bodied in the mouth but fresh, because Rousseau didn’t allow any malolactic fermentation. The flavors are yellow apple, Meyer lemon and mineral. 91 points
This wine was barrel-fermented (25 percent new) with native yeast and then aged sur lie for 11 months. Malolactic fermentation was inhibited. The vineyard is at 1800 feet with a northeast facing, above the fog line, but cool. Spiced golden apples with white flowers and veiled lychee aromas are echoed by the palate. This wine is about finesse: full-body with silky minerality, restrained but friendly, balanced. 92 points
The AVA designation is misleading here since the Cavedale Vineyard sits at 2000 feet just over the ridge of Mount Veeder. The wine’s aromas and flavors resemble the vineyard—dusty and gravelly with scattered sage—but there are also dark plum, black cherry and some Christmas spice. Its medium-plus body with light-grained medium-plus tannins will please Cabernet fans. 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged 18 months in French oak, 50 percent new. Best from 2014. 90 points