Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Chardonnay 2014

Medium gold color; lemon, white flowers, apple on the nose; Meyer lemon, stone fruits, pineapple, tangerine, vanilla on the palate.

Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Chardonnay 2014

Rich and full-bodied without being heavy; easy drinker with nice softness. Well-behaved oak from nine months in barrel: 34% new, 33% once-used, 33% twice-used. Aged on lees to increase complexity and depth. Nice acidity (3.46 pH), some minerality, but softness and tasty fruit is the star in this effort. Wine is 100% chardonnay, 64% from Carneros-Napa and 36% Carneros-Sonoma.

Todd Graff is the winemaker. On the website he does the obligatory—but still true—homage to grape sourcing and picking at the precise time. Just about every winery proclaims this fundamental truth, even when not every one truly delivers. Frank Family consistently delivers. The Lewis Vineyard provides the grapes for this effort. It is near the shores of San Pablo Bay, which delivers the wind, night cooling, and fog essential to the magic of Napa and Carneros—and to high quality vineyards around the world. As Graff knows. After his UC-Davis education he worked at riesling vineyards in Germany’s Mosel, in sandy soils of St.-Émilion in France, in Australia’s Hunter Valley, and at Stag’s Leap in Napa. He says the favorite part of his day is walking the vineyards in the morning with his dog, Bristol. I would pick drinking the wine Graff produces over walking a dog, but that would be me.

Winery owners Rich and Leslie Frank are stories unto themselves. Rich is major Hollywood player—former chairman of Walt Disney Television and Communications, president of Walt Disney Studios, head of syndication division of Buena Vista, led development of the Disney Channel, president of Paramount Television Group, a founder of the USA Network, president of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Whew. Google “Frank H. Rich” if you want to know more. Leslie Frank is an Emmy-award-winning television news anchor and reporter, including nine years with KABC, the number one station in Los Angeles. Now, with that glitz, glamor, and power behind them, they focus on making major wine and spending time with their German Shepherd Riley. At least, that is what their website claims. Dogs are the big focus amid all this? Focus groups must say this image plays well for sales.

The old joke in the wine industry is that to make a small fortune in the wine industry you start with a large one. I’m not sure that is going on here, or that it matters, but following stratospheric success in the entertainment and television business, these guys and dolls now make some excellent wine. Rock on. Enjoy your dogs.

Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Chardonnay 2014 emphasizes tasty fruits, good acidity, nice complexity from quality maker. $30-35

Frank Family Vineyards website

Frank Family Vineyards winery and tasting room

Rich and Leslie Frank

Frank Family Vineyards vineyard

Frank Family winemaker Toof Graff