A row of barrels in the Relic cave.

2018 The Prior Cabernet Franc

Enthusiasts of Napa Valley Cabernet Franc often gravitate that direction because they love the power and richness that Cabernet Sauvignon offers, but also the stony elements and floral aromatics that Franc brings to the equation. Since 2014, this bottling has been based on the beautiful Cabernet Franc that Jim Frediani and his sisters grow in the gravelly alluvium of Simmons Creek just south of Calistoga. These berries are tiny and soak up the sun most of the growing season. The result is intensely rich, but also structured Cabernet Franc. Our 2018 is dark, powerful and layered. The color is deepest red with a dark core. Aromatics of dark plum, black cherry, briary blackberries, coffee, Madagascar chocolate, a hint of bay and floral notes fill the glass. The palate is dense and saturating with layers of deep fruit, framed by bountiful, but never harsh tannins. The finish promises a beautifully long life! 

  • 75% Cabernet Franc, 18% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Cabernet Franc from Frediani Vineyard on Pickett Road
  • 35 year-old vines planted in deep volcanic gravel
  • Merlot from Shifflett Ranch, Oak Knoll
  • Cabernet Sauvignon from Kenefick Ranch, Calistoga
  • Aged in 100% new French Darnajou and Bossuet barrels
  • Unfined and unfiltered
  • 196 cases produced from 8 barrels
The 2018 Cabernet Franc The Prior checks in a 75% Cabernet Franc, 18% Merlot, and the balance Cabernet Sauvignon, sourced from three sites and aged 21 months in new barrel. It has absorbed its oak élevage beautifully and has lots of pure blue and black fruits as well as notes of violets, spring flowers, and charcoal. Medium to full-bodied and silky on the palate, it has some savory, powerful tannins that should round into form with 2-4 years of bottle age.
Jeb Dunnuck
January 2021
Composed of 75% Cabernet Franc, 18% Merlot and 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2018 Cabernet Franc The Prior is deep garnet-purple in color, featuring fragrant notes of red and black plum preserves, redcurrant jelly, kirsch and underbrush with wafts of pencil lead and cinnamon stick. The medium to full-bodied palate has alluring restraint, giving up soft-spoken red fruit and earthy layers with a firm, chewy texture and bags of freshness, finishing earthy.
Lisa Perrotti-Brown
The Wine Advocate
November 5, 2020