Archive | Cabernet Franc RSS feed for this section

Nutt Road Vineyard Cabernet Franc Dry Rosé

7 Oct

Nutt Road Vineyard 2014 Cabernet Franc Dry Rosé, from Red Newt Cellars; Finger Lakes, New York. 11%ABV; $16/bottle.

 

Color is tango pink, which is a touch redder than congo pink or salmon pink, for those keeping track. The nose is a bright, mineral-laden strawberry with hints of lavender, sodium, and sour cherry. On the palate: a lively and wonderfully acidic raspberry and strawberry fruit mix is dominant on the front palate while racy boysenberry spins across the top palate with a smidgen of heat; depositing sodium, slate, and granite on the back palate with a nice, medium-long finish that will make you return to the glass before you expect to.

The bottle is marked Kelby James Russel across the front, and it’s a name to remember (let’s just say a winemaking prodigy, shall we?)  If you like cab franc or are a rosé fan, then you should absolutely go out of your way to taste this wine. If you don’t love it at first sip, it will grow on you like fidget spinners in schools or kudzu across the south. Just be glad I took a picture early in the process, because by the time I finished writing this very short review, the bottle was empty.

 

This is a “hit me again”, “where’s the rest”,  and “order another bottle” kind of wine. The rosé & cab franc fanatics who track it down might not mention it in public for fear of losing their quota! It’s OK, if you don’t think it’s your thing, just log the name Kelby James Russell in your memory banks. There will be a time when you’ll say “I knew him before he became mainstream” and pretend you tasted this instead of just reading my review.

 

à votre santé!

Advertisements

Ehlers Estate Sylviane Rosé 2016

3 Aug

Ehlers Estate Sylviane Rosé 2016, St. Helena, Napa Valley, CA. ABV 12.8%, MSRP $36/bottle.

 

The color of this rosé of Cabernet franc is fuschia. Yes, I said fuchsia. That’s a first for me.

 

Imagine taking the innards of a sweet watermelon and mashing the dripping fruit thru a fine strainer into a sautée pan to make a reduction, cooking it down over low heat for an hour. You add a dozen plump strawberries, the juice of one lime, and one-half of a pint of raspberries. Reduce again for 30 minutes, then strain again, transfer and chill. It’s THAT color, ok? Fuschia! Getting back to the wine:

 

Color is fuchsia. The nose offers greenery of plants: raspberry bush and strawberry leaves, with watermelon vine and rind. There is a definite hint of fruit masked by lush greens; you can sense the fruit, but the plant is hiding them. On the palate, beautifully tart red berries and melon, then lemon-lime citrus. The acid appears as gorgeous lime zest, with sandy chalk on the finish. But you probably won’t spend any time thinking about the flavors, the essence, the notes on the medium-long finish. You’re going to drink this and go, “Oh, yes! Let me have some more of that, please?”

 

Trust me. Even the most verbose of astute critics can be silenced by a wine. I’ve seen it happen.

 

 

 

This rosé of cabernet franc is just delightful. Once you get some, you might turn the bottle around in your hand, pick up the phone and call the number on the back, asking to join their wine club so that you can get some of this juice delivered direct to your door. You would not be the first, nor the last, to do so.

 

When I saw the playful, unusual, and delightful color of this wine, I put it away in the cellar and put a note on it: OTBN (Open That Bottle Night). Months later, I spent days choosing a lengthy wine evening (nine+ bottles) and as I secured treasures from my cellar, I pulled this bottle out, wiped her clean, and put her squarely in the middle of the tasting: bottle #5. Part of me wanted to make this bottle #1, as with the recent steamy weather, it would be easy to start, continue, and end the evening on one wine -if only I had a case or more to play with. But with ten guests and one bottle,  everyone could get a fair pour, and that would be that. But it would be absolutely delicious!

 

 

‘Celebration’ Dinner wines. Not including the aperitif  Vinho Verde or additional after-dinner drinks, such as a 1962 Bas-Armagnac. 

 

Kevin Morrisey as a winemaker is quite similar to me as an audio engineer or production manager. In my world, the star gets what they need, everything in the production is highest quality,  done right, and the audience gets a PERFECT performance -the way show business is supposed to be. It doesn’t matter what happened on the way to the venue, during the load-in, or what technical issues might arise- anything could be in the way.  We overcome, and the audience gets the best show possible, period.
Similar to producing an event from a single idea, Kevin raises his “stars” from seedlings, grooms and cares for them with love on the vine, trimming the canopy for both protection and optimal sun exposure. He harvests them at the perfect time, uses the least intrusive measures (100% organic) to get the maximum result. He presses them with a champagne press. The wines see fermentation only in stainless steel, before bottling. No matter what happens during the growing season or after crush, he overcomes: his eye on the prize. Kevin treats this wine with both passion and scientific expertise, with love and the utmost of care- as he only wants to make sure the person who gets to drink his rosé will love the results and the message in the bottle. The best wine possible, period

There is a reason why this rosé is both priced comparatively with the finest rosé wines from Provence, France, and why it may be difficult to find months after release: This wine is just that damn good! Production size is low, and demand is high. And that’s why you should seek it and drink it. This is NOT the “drink me every day” rosé. To me, this is the engagement, anniversary, amazing dinner, or special event rosé. I call it like I see it, but you have to do the same.  Of course, if  YOU can secure a few cases, it could be the “drink me any day that ends in Y” rosé. If that’s the case… invite me over for a bottle!

à votre santé!

Get #Franc’d Up with #CabFranc

12 Dec

img_0394

Here’s the thing:

I’ve liked cabernet franc for a long time. I’ve enjoyed it primarily as a blending grape, and secondarily as a single vineyard varietal, as a wine that I sometimes offer at Thanksgiving. But as a grape, it never bowled me over, that is, until #CabFrancDay.

img_0376

For #CabFrancDay, I tasted seven bottles of cab franc in great detail. I spent copious time with each one.

img_2995

Sometimes I came away with tremendous tasting notes. Sometimes I just wanted to sit and enjoy the flavor and fragrance of the wine, much like the title character in Munro Leaf’s book, “Ferdinand the Bull”.

img_2996

Some things dawned on me while I sat and smelled cabernet franc, taking tiny sips and noting flavors.

 

And what I found out about cabernet franc wasn’t earth shattering knowledge. But it was incredibly valuable and made me think about how I pair wines and food.

The cabernet franc grape is the thin-skinned father to the bold, bodacious, massively-flavored cabernet sauvignon grape. In comparison, Cab franc is restrained, genteel, even moderate. While it features flavors of dark berries, cassis, bell peppers, leather, forest floor and licorice, these flavors are subtle and mild, and the wine’s acidity and tannins are equally muted. These are what helps make cab franc an excellent blending grape. On the other side of the equation, for a winemaker who develops the grape with intent of making a great single varietal bottle of cab franc, sometimes they are able to create a wine that has class, maturity, and depth in only three or four years, with characteristics that I often wait a decade for in Old World wines.

I want to share my tasting notes from #CabFrancDay. And I still might, but it’s more important to me to peak your interest and whet your appetite on the GRAPE. It’s a bit of a challenge to find a great cab franc, but it is also highly worthwhile.

So today, no tasting notes. Instead, I’m going to tell you what I FELT about these wines.

img_0411
I felt that these wines showed beautiful expression: they were delicate, reserved, graceful. In general, I found that the East coast cabernet francs were more subtle with slightly higher acidity. The Oregon and California Cabernet Francs were more expressive, more powerful, still reserved but passionate. While I really enjoyed the expression of the East coast cab francs,  the West Coast Cabernet Francs haunted me. I dreamed about them. I talked about them constantly. I searched my social media feeds to see if there were associated experiencing the same thing.
There were. There are.

Some of my friends preferred the East Coast wines. But we all were impressed, if not blown away. Some, however, had powerful experiences like myself.

img_0400
There is a new movement afoot. To get #FrancdUp does NOT mean to get drunk, but instead, to hedonistically enjoy a beautifully made #CabernetFranc. 

img_0395
Find your #Franc. Get Franc’dUp. Trust me. And feel free to tell me about it.

You can thank me later!

 

à votre santé!

Don’t tell Miles. We’re drinking Merlot!

15 Mar

Château Tour Peyronneau, Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, 13%ABV; MSRP $75/Street $27.

 

Color is purple with violet edging. The aromatic, perfumed nose offers plum, cassis, fresh roses, and eucalyptus. Bold black currant, blackberry, and black plum dominate the palate with an excellent balance of acidity and velvety tannins. The mid-palate garners hints of earth, forest floor, dried leaves and clay. Notes of limestone, gravel, and sand on the dry, lengthy finish. Listed and labeled as both organic and biodynamic, the 2012 blend is 95% Merlot, 5% cabernet franc, but from year to year this producer uses as much as 15% cabernet franc for this wine.

It’s worth pointing out for those who don’t know why I made the joke in the title: This isn’t the cheaply made, of questionable quality, slightly sweet California merlot that Miles rants about in the film Sideways. Instead, this is the lovingly-curated, classically balanced and agile French standard that made the merlot grape worthy of respect. And it is delicious and very well made, but designed to pair with food, not really to enjoy purely by itself.

TourPeyronneau

For most decent St.-Émilion wines, I’d expect to pay over $70/bottle. The ones I adore and have enjoyed rarely in my life (Angelus, Pavie, Cheval Blanc) are in the hundreds of dollars. This one strikes in alongside Simard but is a Grand Cru, and has been seen on both Garagiste and Wine Til Sold Out at under $20- a steal for French wine lovers like myself.

I opened this specifically to try with a decadently rich and savory beef short rib dish I was cooking and it ended up being a phenomenal pairing. It also paired nicely over several days with baked chicken, a dutch cheese, and dark salted chocolate. This wine is one more in the category of “I wish I’d bought a case” but too little, too late for me since I was being overly cautious. C’est la vie!

à votre santé!

 

 

 

 

Francophiled, or Drink What You Like

5 Oct

I recently attended a blind A/B tasting. That means we (the tasting panel) were given four pairs of wines poured from concealed bottles, were given no information on them, and we had to compare each pair of wines against one another. The common thread was that one set was presented by a famed importer of classic old world French wines from the Loire Valley, while the other set was provided by a small, youthful winery from Santa Barbara, California. What made this most interesting was that it was a pair of brothers, born five years apart, who both work in the wine industry, pitting their wines against one another. It was a fascinating evening and enlightening tasting.

Unfortunately,  this tasting came after a month of too little wine and too much work. Stupidly, I arrived fresh from taking my daughter horseback riding- parched and on an empty stomach- which somewhat threw me off my “A” game.

I took my wine notes, choosing many of the regions and grapes correctly. But I did something I’ve never done before. Our hosts asked us to tell them which wine we’d rather drink. So after tasting both wines in a pair, I quickly made a tiny heart-shaped notation indicating which of the wines I immediately preferred, knowing nothing more than my initial nose & sip. Normally I’m in critical mode, thinking about everything BUT which wine I might prefer to drink. My energy is spent deciding what the region, grape, style, and vintage might be, before possible food pairings. This time, I spent less concern on those criteria and just let my mouth decide.

So, what did I learn, you ask?

I learned that even an old dog can learn new tricks. As an outspoken Francophile (for the newbies, in the wine world that means I prefer old-world French wines) this tasting forced me to remove my size twelve boot from my mouth (Zut alors!) and replace it with a flip- flop, Duuuude!

In not one, but in EVERY single instance, I had chosen the Santa Barbara wine. The Loire Sauvignon Blanc had more grapefruit upfront while the Santa Barbara felt muted and ergo drank with greater balance. With the chenin blanc, it was the slight petrol on the French wine’s nose that made me prefer the other wine. With the pinot noir, it was that the French wine was actually a red sancerre. With the Cabernet Franc, it was the slightly deeper color and depth of palate that made me think it was aged longer in the barrel (it was) and was tastier on its own, while the French Chinon was a tiny bit sharper (more acidic) on the palate and ultimately would pair better with food, but fooled me into thinking it was Californian.

IMG_1564

All night long, I kept thinking there was a wine switcheroo– that the Californian wine was actually the French and so forth. I was slightly amused, and yet irritated at myself for getting it wrong, not coming to the tasting with my “A” game, drinking the wine more than just tasting it, and enjoying the process of tasting and just having fun, instead of taking it so seriously- which is, after all, really the best way to do a tasting, right?

So instead of coming away with a set of killer tasting notes, I had a blast. I really enjoyed eight wines, and based upon minutiae, I selected four that I’d rather drink – and in every single case thought I’d chosen the old world French wines of my youth. Instead, I found myself having selected the Santa Barbara competitor time and time again. That, my friends, was the switcheroo.

IMG_1565

Towards the end of the evening, I found myself chatting with a lovely couple across the tasting table. The wife admitted to me apologetically, “I know nothing about wine,” and I kept reminding her that the historic wine rules are no longer valid or in force. “As long as you know what you like, that’s what matters,” I preached. For this evening, I can do nothing but take my own advice. As an avowed Francophile, I am tipping my hat. For at least this one night, I am now California Dreamin’.

IMG_1566

Knowing what you like means I have the best of both worlds. I can drink what I like from the new world, and I can also buy, hold, and drink what I hold so dear: those old world French wines.

My thanks to James Parisi and Xavier Wines for hosting this event. And both my thanks and respect to brothers Lyle Railsback from Kermit Lynch and Eric Railsback from Lieu Dit Winery for the astounding evening of great wines that I seriously enjoyed.

Know this, gents: I’m a true fan of all of your work and will continue to enjoy all your brands, drinking both what I like at the moment, and what I have loved my whole life.

À votre santé!

The Valentino of Red Wine

7 Jun

Campo Al Mare Bolgheri 2010 IGT

Sample Provided by Wine Chateau, $21/bottle (reg $35) 14.5% ABV

A dark ruby color and nose of black plum and spice. In the mouth: tart black fruit with licorice and a hint of spice, a medium long finish that becomes more acidic as the tannins close in on the back palate. I was left with a remaining flavor of violet-laced licorice, some clay, and new oak. I was surprised at how Bordeaux-like this felt to me, as if it were a blend of several grapes (and it is, I quickly found out!) Lovers of both classic Italian and French wines will enjoy this, and those who champion “new world” reds will still appreciate this very classic winemaking blend with excellent results.

photo-3

With a blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, no wonder it reminds me of French wine blending.  I was impressed by this wine, to be honest. I enjoyed it more than I expected to, and the wine stayed consistent over five days with no special treatment. It drinks well on its own and complements proteins and carbs nicely; it was stunning with a single-pot chicken, tomato & green bean dish my wife makes. The more I thought about this wine, the more it reminded me of the Italian film star and sex symbol of the 1920’s, Rudolph Valentino, famous for his dashing Italian looks and soft, gentle charm. To me, this wine embodies some of the best characteristics of European winemaking, and it would be an excellent gift or wine to stock in your cellar that can pair with many food options or be enjoyed on its own, providing quality and a solid value at this price.

You can access the link for the winemaker’s website if you want more information about the Folonari Family of winemakers,  and you can purchase this wine directly from Wine Chateau’s website.

à votre santé!

A Trio of Tens

4 Nov

I found these three ten-dollar bottles on a recent visit to one of my local wine haunts, Mayfair Wine & Liquor on Utopia Parkway. (For anyone who travels Fresh Meadows, this is a great store for quality and value. The owner has phenomenal knowledge of wines and liquors and a surprisingly wide range of stock.)

Each of these wines offers something different, and could be a good or great option in the appropriate pairing. Here are my most recent finds, in no specific order:

 

Canyon Road Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010

A purple color with garnet edges in the glass and nose of red ripe fruit. On the palate this wine features raspberry and plum with hints of vanilla, oak, and a touch of smoke. I tasted this with a strong cheese, then noticed it went very well with chocolate that brought out nice mocha notes. Light for a cab with an easy finish and gentle tannins, this was delicious and my favorite of the three wines.  I’d like to taste other offerings from this winemaker!

Visit Canyon Road Winery for more information.

 

Esteban Martin Carinena Reserva 2007

This wine has a ruby color and a spicy nose of red fruit and dried wildflowers. In the mouth it features red currants, powerful spices, notes of cigar box, and aged wood on the finish. The spice in this wine is dominant, and as such it would ideally pair with a strongly-flavored complement. The blend is 70% grenache, 15% syrah, and 15% cabernet sauvignon from grapes grown in Carinena, Spain. An interesting vineyard to keep an eye on.

Esteban Martin‘s website features much more on their winery.

2010 Chateau La Garrousse Bordeaux (bronze medal winner, Concourse de Bordeaux 2011)

Pale garnet color, with raspberry & violet and some gravel on the nose.

On first taste I was overpowered by sweet red fruit, followed by loads of acidity and some bitterness on the back palate I didn’t care for. My immediate reaction: not enough tannin, this wine is young and requires time to develop. Fortunately I decided to let this take some air. After an hour, the bitterness was gone and I felt the wine was decidedly different and greatly improved. The next day, I enjoyed this wine with a salad and pizza and the elements I’d been concerned with had entirely disappeared. With a little age, this has great potential.

*If you find a website for Chateau La Garrousse, please let me know! *

à votre santé!

Something Old, Something New

4 Jul

Recently we had several friends over for dinner, and choosing wines required a moment of thought for me. The menu included beef and lamb, so I wanted wines that would be able to pair and complement well. I started re-arranging a section in my cellar and found a remaining bottle of 1983 Sociando-Mallet Haut-Medoc. I’d purchased several of these bottles at auction and enjoyed the next-to-last bottle. I pulled and dusted it, examined the foil and cork (not bad!) and then selected a couple of younger bottles for follow-up wines.

When I opened and decanted the 29-year old bottle, the cork broke, but the second half came out as one piece. While the split cork could be a bad indication, the initial color was good, a deep garnet with just a small amount browning on the edges. On the nose, I discerned a slight tinge of the acidity starting to turn on my initial aroma, after more air it dissipated completely. My initial impression was balanced tannins and acidity with cassis and raspberry in the background. Yet the balance was good and the wine opened considerably.  As the wine aerated, the cassis and cherry opened more into the back palate, as did the hints of cocoa, pepper, and clay. I was hardly surprised there was nary a hint of cedar or oak to be found at this age. It is important to note there was not a hint of sugar or sweetness in the fruit, confirming that this needed to be consumed now or risk that hint of TCA becoming a complete reality. After 30 minutes of air, the wine had opened to be a lovely, medium-bodied complement for the lamb, and it was time to open another bottle.

Next I picked a Chateau Charmant Margaux 2008. The Charmant is dark purple in color, has a nose that includes rose petal, black plum, a hint of menthol and graphite. The palate is full of black plum, blackberry, cassis, with elements of cedar, cocoa, pepper and rose bush. While this wine is still young, it’s a great example of a huge, fruit- forward wine with balance and the lush silkiness that endears the great Margaux to me. On the downside, this wine is currently lacking the immense structure and depth it will have upon reaching maturity. Nonetheless, it played a great foil in comparison to the fully matured Sociando-Mallet, from delicious wine to delicious wine, from fall to spring, and a wonderful transition in seasons and flavors.

Modus Operandi’s Petite Syrah 2009 & Vicarious 2009

29 Apr

Modus Operandi Petite Syrah 2009 

The ’09 Petite Syrah is a very small bottling- only TWO barrels were made, it’s rare and pricey at $50/bottle.

Very deep, blackish-purple in color. The nose is floral: African violet & blackberry.  The mouthfeel is dense with loads of black fruit. Powerfully strong blackberry, plum, and cassis start on the forward palate and takes a massive fruit finish with a gentle wash of gravel, root and cedar with a hint slate. My tasting notes reiterate: What a nice, even and lasting finish. Label suggest decanting 2-24 hours prior to drinking, I decanted three hours before first tasting, and drank it for several days before refrigerating and finally finished the bottle a week after opening with almost the same delight in the flavor every time.

This wine is easy to appreciate with its depth and complexity. Jason Moore (the winemaker) seems to be part chemist and part inventor. His wines are experimental blends done in small lots,  and when he releases a wine to the public it’s a delicious symphony in a flavorful bottle. Well worth the price, an amazing, special treat on the opposite end of my snooty French Bordeaux favorites.

Modus Operandi Vicarious 2009 (red blend)

Color: Inky, deep purple. Nose of blackberry, red plum,  vanilla, orchid, and spice box.

This dense, huge, fruit-forward wine is in a word, amazing. Massively fruit forward, it explodes in the mouth with cassis, plum, and berry and has a lengthy finish.

Best when decanted before tasting, this blend (Merlot,  Petit Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon) is from grapes in multiple vineyards, carefully selected, sorted and fermented and ages 22 months in new French oak. This wine demonstrates Jason Moore’s work as that of a master winemaker and in my opinion, a wine artiste!

12 barrels made  (300 cases) At 45/bottle, it’s not for the light of heart but it’s so completely worth it. This is a wine to taste, enjoy, and share with friends. Again, these wines are shockingly delicious and HUGE.

Jason Moore is a passionate, talented winemaker. His wines were introduced to me by a passionate wine lover.

I’m now sharing them with you. Please do the same.

http://moduswines.com/

%d bloggers like this: