Medium ruby color; cherry, pomegranate, forest floor, rose petals on the nose; black cherry, raspberry, plum, cranberry, strawberry, baking spice on the palate.
Dry; smoother tannins than the previous vintage, I did not decant as I did for the 2018. Excellent acidity (3.56 pH). Some oak well done; 10 months in French oak barrels, 33% new and the remainder once and twice-filled. Layers of ripe fruit flavors meld with touches of earthiness and whiff of smoke. Medium-plus body. Nice balance of fruit, acidity, tannin, alcohol, wood. 14.5% ABV
Winemaker Todd Graff notes: “We’re not trying to make a Burgundian Pinot Noir. We are blessed with California sunshine and we have to farm with that in mind. We’ve learned a lot from the French and we respect the French, but we’re trying to do what California does best. We have an abundance of this great fruit, so we’re not going to hide it at all.”
The fruit comes from two long-time providers, Beckstoffer Vineyards and Sangiacomo Family Vineyards. Frank Family Vineyards has worked with the growers for more than a decade and Graff says “we are able to fine-tune what we do and get better every year.”
The Beckstoffer and Sangiacomo vineyards are located in the heart of Carneros, near the shores of San Pablo Bay, which delivers the cool temperature, fog, and wind that engenders the acidity. A small amount of the fruit came from Frank Family’s Lewis Vineyard—which provides the fruit for the winery’s more expensive estate pinot noir.
Graff went to UC-Davis, then 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. 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 was the 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.
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.
Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Pinot Noir 2019 presents tasty Carneros fruit framed by excellent acidity and judicious use of French oak. This is the Frank Family Vineyards entry-level pinot noir. It performs very well as a California-Carneros PN, which is different from a Burgundy or Willamette Valley effort. Fuller, more assertive. As a pinot noir, it will pair with wide range of foods. It could work with richer red meats, plus the usual salmon and fatty fish; turkey; roasted chicken; game birds; pork; lamb; delicately flavored, washed-rind cheeses; nutty, medium-firm cheese like gruyere; brie, camembert. $32-38