Winemaker Todd Graff in the barrell room.

Frank Family Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Cost: $48-50

What: This stunning wine is perfect for any special occasion. When the inky garnet wine opens in the glass a bit there are powerful aromas of black cherries in a brown sugar sauce. It’s a  rich, complex aroma that gets your palate ready for the treat to come.

The rich mouthfeel is loaded with flavors of plum, raspberry and coffee with hints of minerality. Even though this is a young Cabernet the flavors are complex and ever-changing. You can taste the oak and the tannins and firm acidity, but everything is wonderfully balanced.

Be sure to open the wine at least an hour before drinking because it will need plenty of time for the flavors to open. With every sip I detected new flavors emerging.

Frank Family Cab

The wine is a blend of 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot from Frank Family’s 50-acre S&J Vineyard in an eastern sub region of the Napa Valley called Capell Valley. The wine spent 20 months in French oak, 30% new and 70% once and twice-filled barrels.

I’m going to get several bottles of this beauty and set them aside because it will continue to improve for at least 10 years.

Winery: Though the Frank Family winery only began in 1992, its roots go back to 1884 when the Larkmead Winery was built on the property in Calistoga at the northern end of Napa Valley. The main building was refinished with native sandstone from the nearby hills in 1906, and it still stands today. It’s listed on the Registry of National Historic Places and is the third oldest winery in Napa.

Rich Frank was a longtime Disney executive in Los Angeles when he started visiting Napa on weekends in the late 1980s. He bought a home in Rutherford in 1990 and two years later bought the historic property, which was then home to Kornell Champagne Cellars. In 2007 Rich and Connie Frank bought out their partner Koerner Rombauer.

The family owns 200 acres of land scattered throughout Napa Valley, allowing them
to control the grapes from vine to bottle.

The winery offers a full range of varietals, including some incredible sparkling wines. (Winemaker Todd Graff says, “Just try to drink a glass of sparkling wine without smiling.”) Besides the Cabernet, some of the best are the Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Chardonnay.

If you ever get to Napa Valley, it’s worth a trip to Frank Family to see one of the friendliest tasting rooms in wine country. I’ve been there three times in the past two years, and every time it is a treat. Visitors who come in feel like they’ve rediscovered a long-lost friend.

The Franks run the winery and continue to work in Hollywood. Rich and his sons Darryl and Paul are producing such shows as Smash, Borgias, Royal Pains and Wilfred. Connie Frank is working with UCLA to build a new kidney transplant center after completing a similar project for UC-San Francisco.

Goes with: We had this with spaghetti pie and watermelon for dessert. It was a heavenly combination. The smooth complexity of the wine nicely matched the acidity and spiciness of the spaghetti sauce and the tanginess of the cheese.

My wife Teri and I loved the seductive taste and feel of the wine. We kept oohing and aahing with every sip until all of a sudden the bottle was empty and we were still eating spaghetti. That’s the sign of  a remarkable wine.

It also would go well with a thick steak, a rich beef stew, hard cheese, and just about any meat on the grill.

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