Piece #3 for The Daily Meal ‘A Rich Production’

Here’s a link to the third piece I wrote for The Daily Meal on my Napa/Sonoma trip: have photos to view from my trip included, so I highly suggest you stop by!

Or…you can just read it here…


A Rich Production


When Rich Frank walked through the door of his winery; Riley,
the rescue German shepherd glued to his heels, you immediately know you’re
about to have some fun.  Rich is
wearing jeans, an un-tucked button down and a baseball cap (all stitched with
the Frank Family logo) and he walks up to our group like he had just stepped
out for a minute.  It’s clear that
Rich Frank is an important man; you can hear it in the way he speaks, see in
the car that he has parked in front of the building (a 1971 cornflower blue
Mercedes convertible), and feel it in the way he shakes your hand.  But he never once came off as
pompous.  He has certainly earned
the right to be a snob, there’s no doubt.
His resume would take days to rattle off, but I get the sense that he’s
just the same man that he’s always been.
He’s the kind of man you want to have a beer with, or better yet a glass
of Frank Family wine with. 
His wines are outstanding and fairly easy to find if you
look hard enough (the Napa Cab is available at most wine stores).  But Frank Family is far more than just
a big Cabernet house.  They vary
from the most crisp, yet delicately creamy Blanc de Blancs that has ever tickled
my tongue (we drank the 2008), to the most intensely unique and rich port I
have ever had.  The port, if you
close your eyes, presents more like a tawny Madeira, with the flavor of graham
crackers and a salty-nuttiness that is utterly addictive, and yet the color is
a deep, rich purplely brown.  It’s decadent,
it tastes of every type of chocolate and it’s unbelievable.   
A standout for me, if I really, really, had to choose one,
besides the port, besides the Blanc de Blancs, besides the 2011 Chardonnay that
tasted and smelled of fresh baked apple pie, and besides the 2011 Pinot that
was elegantly laced with the scent of lavender and spice, would have to be the
Frank Family Rouge.  It’s a
sparkling wine, made of the usual Champagne suspects-Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
(mostly Pinot), but it’s as deeply colored as a Pinot itself.  It’s not overpoweringly strawberried,
as one might expect from the color, you get the dark cherry flavors that are
typical of a Pinot and a bit of orange peel, and it is so completely amazing
that I had to stop myself from finding a corner on the lawn to have a moment
alone with it. 
We drank our wines outdoors while we nibbled on cave-aged cheeses,
fresh figs, marcona almonds and garlic shrimp, and watched master paella maker,
Gerard, prepare our dinner for us.
The table was set with purple linens and hydrangeas, we had rows and
rows of grape vines surrounding us, and it all had the magical feeling of equal
parts casual and fancy.  Rich told
story after story, each one speckled with famous people and places, each one
ending with an uproar of laughter, his beautiful wife sparkled as much as the
wine in my glass, and it is a scene I hope to never forget, a scene that could
only be played out by such an accomplished producer.
After spending so much time with Rich, his wife and part of
his crew, sharing a delectable meal on the property that he was recently married,
I feel like I know the man.  I feel
like I understand why his wines are so popular and coveted, his TV shows
watched by millions.  That old
baseball cap he wore when I first met him undoubtedly has a lot of titles.  His wines, as different as they all
are, all speak the language that is Rich Frank- they make a statement, they’re
lovable and they make you want to come back for more.
The entire experience for me, all in all, was very, very Rich.
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