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Wine of the week: Frank Family Vineyards, 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

The most challenging part of making a great cabernet sauvignon is getting balance and concentration in the same sip.

That's according to Todd Graff, the winemaker behind our wine of the week winner - the Frank Family Vineyards, 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at $45.

Graff said that while there are many varietals and many great locations, he keeps his wine front and center for consumers because in Napa, cab is king.

So just what happens behind the scenes to make Graff's cab regal?

"We own the majority of the vineyards, and the balance we have long-term contracts with growers who do an excellent job," Graff said. "Then we have a cellar staff that loves making wine."

Graff includes himself among the passionate. He has worked at the winery for eight seasons and his resume includes some heavy hitters in Napa Valley -- Joseph Phelps, Stag's Leap, Schramsberg and Cordorniu Napa (now Artesa). He's also worked abroad in Australia, France and Portugal.

Drawn to winemaking at a young age, Graff signed up for an introductory wine course while attending Santa Rosa Jr. College and never looked back. He graduated from UC Davis with a degree in plant science and viticulture in 1984.

As a winemaker, Graff has to contend with Mother Nature and her occasional crushing blows.

"Every vintage is a new season and we are able to draw off our experience and instincts to create the best wine the season produces," he said.

The Frank Family Vineyards cab edged out its competition because it was lower in price, but there were some heady contenders in the flight: Arrowood, 2006 Monte Rosso Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at $70; Antica, 2007 Napa Valley at $55; Stag's Leap Wine Cellars "Artemis," 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at $55 and Jordan, 2006 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at $52.

Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached 707-521-5310 or peg.melnik@ pressdemocrat.com.

Peg Melnik

Wine, The Press Democrat

Northern California is cradled in vines; it’s Wine County at its best in America. My job is to help you make the most of this intriguing, agrarian patch of civilization by inviting you to partake in the wine culture – the events, the bottlings and the fun. This is a space to explore wine, what you care about or don’t know about yet.

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