Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The War Between The Francs

This evening I was very enthused about taking part in a Twitter #winechat "Cabernet Franc Festival."  Cab Francs are becoming more popular here in the Finger Lakes and maybe the most important red wine grape in the region.  I also had one bottle left of a Cabernet Franc that I brought home from Virginia on my last visit.  So, I decided to have a mini civil war here on my tasting table, which also doubles as my PC and office desk.  Before starting the #winechat, I diced up a few cheeses and thawed out a few Lindt Chocolate balls.  I then opened one of New York's finest, a bottle of Sheldrake Point Vineyard 2010 ($18) and my last bottle from Virginia, a Prince Michel Vineyard & Winery 2008 ($15).

The Sheldrake Point is 90% Cab Franc, 6% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was racked out of barrel on August 3, 2009, after nearly 9 months in oak. The wine was blended during the first week of August and chilled for 3 weeks to 35F. To this blend a 4% addition of 2007 Cabernet Franc, a 2% addition of 2008 Merlot, and a 2% addition of 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon were added.
Color was a typical Cabernet Franc light garnet red. Aromas were very light, even after a few hard swirls, but when they finally did come thru, I found lots of cherry with blackberry and hints of spice and black pepper and a very faint hint of ginger.  On the palate, there were nice dark fruit flavors of black cherry, raspberry and some blueberry.  There was also some spice and herbal notes. The medium finish had a little black pepper along with some dark fruit.  

The Prince Michael is 95% Cab Franc and 5% Merlot. The wine was aged for 18 months in both French and American oak barrels.
Color was almost identical to the Sheldrake Point. Maybe just a bit darker.  Aromas were very evident right from the pour.  More blackberry with some cherry and some raspberry.  In the mouth this wine was eloquent. Very smooth mouth feel with notes of blackberry, black cherry and just a tad of herbal or earth. Finish was a little short with cherry and some green pepper.

Personally, I billed tonight's #winechat as a mini civil war.  One of New York's best against an unknown from Virginia.  I was very confident that my Finger Lakes wine would have an easy night, scoring much higher than a wine from Leon, VA.  Confident because I have yet to find a Virginia Cabernet Franc, with exception to Jefferson Vineyards, that I liked.  But, I was fooled or just haven't yet tasted the best Virginia has to offer.  In every category, the Prince Michel proved to be best.  Aromas were more compelling, the mouth feel was much smoother with richer fruit taste and the finish was close to silky.  Both wines were very nice representation of East Coast Cab Francs,  but in this war, the South prevailed.

Both wines will pair very nicely with roasted red meats such as beef and lamb and pairs well with herbs such as rosemary and thyme.Dishes that feature roasted garlic, mushrooms of all types (particularly truffles), legumes (especially lentils) really shine while sides like brown rice, bitter greens, grits (and other stone ground grains) and roasted potatoes enhance the earthy flavor factor. An excellent pizza wine and paired very well tonight with light cheese like Gouda and Havarti, with chocolate bites and even with some slices of pepperoni.


Stuart Robinson said...

Nice Joe. Starting to see a few more of the 'Bordeaux' fillers as varietal wines here in Aus. Do enjoy a good Cab Franc - would love to taste more especially Chinon etc

joeshico said...

Thanks Stuart. Cab Franc is a varietal that always seems to hit or miss. I've been getting a lot of misses lately and was very happy to open two very nice ones last night. Chinons are next. Haven't tried them yet

SAHMmelier said...

I loved Sheldrake Point's Riesling. I have yet to try anything from Virginia. Sounds like a war I wouldn't mind participating in.