Until tonight, the first and last time I tasted Frank Family’s Sangiovese was on location in Napa Valley in Dennis Zablosky’s office. Frank Family was not on our original honeymoon itinerary, but we had a hot buzz and plenty of time between Cuvaison and Joseph Phelps, so off we went. After tossing a stick for Bristol Frank, the Chocolate Lab vineyard dog, we made our way inside for some beautiful Méthode Champenoise sparklers before being led into the big man’s office for the remainder of the still line-up.
Dennis is the Frank Family tasting room manager and legendary Napa native. We sampled about 5 different wines while seated at his desk. I enjoyed watching Dennis sitting far back in his chair, divvying up the wine, not really caring about dripping it all over his big desk. The wine was brilliant—no surprise—and everything was grabbing me, but I just couldn’t get past the Sangiovese.
These wines are not easy to come by. So when an ’02 Sangiovese popped up on WineBid.com, I was the first one there to pounce. Since then it even survived a nose dive onto a granite countertop from the top slot of a wine bin—a new Riedel glass broke its fall.
Still gleaming ruby—no elder tones yet. Very clear with medium transparency. Incredible flesh comes through on the nose in partnership with cedar and chocolate.
I honestly don’t know that I have ever tasted a wine quite like this. The flavor palate is explosive. Dried cranberries, pomegranate, and pineapple—I stress pineapple! Cotton candy and bubble gum so definitive you will look at your glass. You will probably have to take my word on that—not many 2002′s floating around.
Cool in the mouth and hot in the chest. Cedar box/cigar box, root beer/cream soda, and musk/sandalwood. Pulsing lushness of flavor, but far from textural syrup—very important for a wine with flavors as implausible as this. I am far more wary of a wine that feels candied. The reality is that this wine is not overripe, overextracted, or overindulgent—it is a shock of great flavor though.
Carey doesn’t know it yet, but there is a bottle of 2000 Frank Family Champagne ready to go for her birthday. I bid on this bottle along with the Sangiovese—as well as an ’06 Zinfandel and an ’00 Cab Franc—and it’s been hiding in plain sight for a special occasion. Hopefully Dennis will accept my Facebook friend request, and this will be the first of many more F.F. reviews to come!