Wine of the Week
Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Claret 2010 ($18)
An Oscar-winning film director makes his mark with award-wiinning wines
By Dwight Casimere
NAPA VALLEY, California-When multiple Oscar-winning director Francis Ford Coppola purchased the old Niebaum Estate in Rutherford in 1975, it was intended as just a quiet country place to allow he and his family to get away from the rigors of Hollywood. He had no intention of creating great wines there, other than for his own personal use. It was Robert Mondavi and his wife Margrit Biever, his neighbors just down the road, who welcomed them to the Napa Valley and that casual dinner in a rustic little guest house over a bottle of ancient, unlabeled wine they found in a boarded up wine cellar, changed the course of Coppola's personal history. ""I have a vision that you can make great wine from this property," Mondavi told him. According to Coppola's wife and filmmaking partner Eleanor, those words inspired Francis and he began pursuing a course to make fine wine. Coppola has since developed a spectacular winery and wine themed park at the former Souverain Estate in Sonoma County. With winemaker Corey Beck, he is producing some of the finest examples of wines that are appellation-specific and classic expressions of California favorites that are full of character and complexity. Francis Coppola's Diamond Collection Claret is a perfect example of the type of bold, dynamic wine that fully expresses the unique climate and grape characteristics to create an exquisite wine that has become the flagship of the Diamond Collection. Francis Coppola Diamond Collection 2010 Claret Cabernet Sauvignon is a luscious, fruit forward red wine that is terrific with a huge steak or meat grilled in the open air on the barbecue. I had it with some grilled lamb skewers that had been marinated in a spicy Satay peanut sauce, Indonesian style, and found it to be one of the most satisfying meals so far this summer. The wine is rich with dark and red fruit flavors, such as black cherries, cassis, blackberries and hints of roasted coffee. Best known for his Oscar and Cannes Film Festival Award winning films (Patton, The Godfather, Godfather !!), Coppola has made his mark as a California winemaker ever since his purchase of the Niebaum Estate in Rutherford in 1975 and revival of the adjacent Inglenook winery. His neighbor, Robert Mondavi, first encouraged Coppola and his wife and filmmaking partner Eleanor to start making quality wines, saying "I have a vision that you can make quality wines at this property." Mondavi's vision inspired the filmmaker and he embarked on a path that has produced a series of successful wine varietals. Diamond Collection Claret 2010 is a blend primarily of Cabernet Sauvignon, with a composition of 79% Cabernet, 13% Petit Verdot, 5% Malbec and 3% Cabernet Franc. The wine is lush and rich with concentrated flavors, layered with velvety textures and lingering aromas. Careful aging in French oak has enhanced its character, giving it a richness and body that you would normally find in wines quadruple the price. At 13.5% alcohol, this wine has a solid structure that can stand up to some cellar aging, but its ready to drink now, so that may prove to be a mute point. I have found myself returning to this wine time and again, ever since I received the first sample bottle from the winery. It's quickly become my favorite this summer. I'm sure it could be yours too!