2013 Howell Mountain Cabernet Franc
This Cabernet Franc wine comes from an exceptional little vineyard planted in 1976 next to our century-old stone winery on Howell Mountain. Grafted onto resistant St. George rootstock, it 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 crop, pull leaves or in any other way adjust the grape-to-canopy ratio. Year after year, the grapes are intensely flavored and beautifully balanced. Not many wineries produce Cabernet Franc and this wine definitely captures the essence of La Jota terroir.
We hand-harvested the grapes into small, 30-pound boxes to prevent crushing, and then brought them to our winery for hand sorting. After destemming and light crushing, the must was cold soaked for gentle color, flavor and tannin extraction. To bridle the "mountain tannins", Chris added small amounts of oxygen into the wine with two to three "splashing pump-overs" a day during the primary fermentation in stainless steel tanks. In-barrel malolactic fermentation rounded the acidity and softly integrated the vanillin character of the new French oak barrels. To further enhance the wine’s elegance, we racked the wine three times during its 20 months of barrel aging.
"The 2013 growing season was another near perfect year. With only a day or two approaching 100 degrees, temperatures were steady and in the sweet spot of 85°-95°F. Dry conditions throughout allowed for ideal maturation and flavor concentration. On the palate the 2013 La Jota Cabernet Franc has dark raspberry, black tea, and candied walnuts. The faithful Howell Mountain shale contributes slight minerality. Full bodied and complex, the palate is rich with tannins."