By Chuck Hill
Wines of the Week Archive
Up and Coming Red Wines - Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Franc wines of the Pacific Northwest are most often more bold expressions of the varietal with extracted berry and herb characters that also serve as a canvas for those who paint with expressions of oak. It is this style that has been presented to local wine lovers, and many have found appeal in the power and the glory of big Cab Franc.
Ron Coleman crafted this high-scoring Cabernet Franc mostly from fruit
the Weinbau Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope and aged it in 40% new French
Sourcing fruit from different sub-regions proved to be an important
in the creation of Abacela's 2007 Cabernet Franc. The fruit from
the estate Fault
Line Vineyard in Roseburg was combined with Rogue Valley fruit from Alta
and Pheasant Hill Vineyards. Owner Earl Jones feels that the
fruit contributed ripe blueberry, lavender and sweet vanilla, while his
supplied savory aromatics of floral notes and herbs along with a
fine-grained tannins. A nice combination of the new- and old-world
styles, it was
the top-scoring wine in our tasting with mixed grill of lamb and goat.
This is a big Cabernet Franc, but not overly oaky. Upon opening, it reveals the herbal side of the grape with aromas and flavors of earthy spice, eucalyptus and toasty herbs. A little breathing time and the nose evolves with aromas of dark fruits, cherry, leather and tobacco. The palate is equally generous and is perfectly matched to meats from the grill.
This wine was a favorite at our tasting and shows more of the French style, using neutral French oak barrels and restraint in winemaker intervention. Additional bottle age has helped bring the wine together. First aromas are of herbs, tobacco and forest with cherry notes drifting in the background. The palate is firm but approachable, with savory flavors of earth, pepper and delicate cherry.
This blend of 60% Cabernet Franc with 40% Merlot is another fine example of blending new- and old-world winemaking. Aged in neutral French oak, the Cabernet Franc brings earthy forest floor and herbs to the mix while the Merlot offers black cherry, spicy pepper, vanilla and mocha. This fine wine will accompany your more elegant meat dishes or a rich and fatty fish like salmon.
From the famed Horse Heaven Hills Champoux Vineyard, the fruit for this wine is a blend of 75% Cabernet Franc, 15% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. The fruit was harvested at a healthy 26 Brix and barrel aging was in French oak, one- third new. One might suspect this to be a masculine wine, but it has its feminine side, too. Tasting it as a youngster, we found aromas of earth, dried cherry, anise and field herbs. The palate is youthful with cherry and berry flavors dancing with cocoa and black fruits on the finish. It will reward some time in your cellar by further clarifying its identity.
Winemaker Bill Owen crafted this Rose in the "classic Loire Valley mold." The familiar AOC Rose d' Anjou applies to this description, though this wine has much more to offer. Look for light aromas of red fruits and bell pepper with hints of peppery spice and floral perfume. The palate is bone dry and crisp with acidity, offering flavors of delicate rhubarb, field flowers and earthy mineral - a very nice sipper with your Indian Summer fare.
Pend d'Oreille Winery
Another fruit-forward Cabernet Franc sourced from the Weinbau Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope, winemaker Stephen Meyer's bottling is bright with intense cherry, berry and spicy vanilla without over-the-top oakiness. Complement your mixed grill with this medium-bodied, richly fruity wine from Idaho's most northerly winery.
Wines of Substance
This Walla Walla winery sources grapes from vineyards all around the state, seeking the most varietally true fruit that provides an expression of place as well. The 2009 bottling of Cabernet Franc takes on the herbaceous side of the varietal offering aromas of mint, lavender, citrus, pear and field herbs... over a base of tangy cherry. Flavors of sweet cherry, rhubarb and lavender are complemented with notes of lemon zest and bell pepper - a nice match for grilled meats.
Chateau Ste. Michelle
Chateau Ste. Michelle's Cold Creek Vineyard is one of the oldest in Washington, being planted in 1973. A blend of 83% Cabernet Franc with 17% Cabernet Sauvignon created just the perfect balance of fruit, herbs and spice in this tasty, meat-friendly wine. On the nose: white pepper, lavender, cherry and vanilla. The palate offers red fruit flavors with notes of dried herbs, mocha, tar and a finish of spicy coconut.
Talented winemaker Ben Smith has planted his own Cara Mia Estate
on Red Mountain in Washington State, and we continue to enjoy his
efforts using fruit from
neighboring properties in this AVA as well. This bottling from the famed
Ciel du Cheval
vineyard is a blend of 38% Cabernet Franc, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17%
Verdot and 12% Merlot. Up front it should be said that this is not
Franc wine in taste or aroma; rather, it is a seductive blend that
Cabernet Franc to heighten acidity and balance the rich flavors of the
Sauvignon and Merlot. Aromas of dark fruits and barrel spice lead
to flavors of
cherry, blueberry and ripe plum with firm tannins and notes of spice and
on the finish. Needs breathing time and will improve with age.
This wine is a rosé made from 75% Cabernet Franc and 25% Petit Verdot.
Refreshing aromas and flavors of strawberry, watermelon, mineral and
acidity make this a delightful wine to serve with brunch or a light
dinner after a
hard day at the office. "Moderation in everything, including
Combine one of the most beautiful views from any winery on the planet with flavorful wines of many varieties, add events featuring top drawer entertainment and you have Maryhill Winery in the Columbia Gorge. This ripe and tasty reserve Cabernet Franc shows the earthy side of the varietal with aromas of cherry, earthy oak, green bean and floral notes. The palate is rich and toasty with dark fruits, spicy oak and green herb flavors. See the winery website for upcoming concert information including Michael McDonald, Boz Scaggs and Counting Crows.
Winemaker/owner Matt Gubitosa is inspired to craft his Cabernet Franc by the reds of the Loire Valley and thus presents it in the Loire/Burgundy-shaped bottle, as opposed to the high-shouldered Bordeaux bottle. Neutral oak aging allows the varietal character to show with dark berry and plum aromas mingling with notes of white pepper and green olive. The palate offers flavors of strawberry jam, graham cracker, smoky spice and tart cherry.
Three Rivers Winery
Winemaker Holly Turner and I shared lunch in Seattle last month and
discussing wine and food pairing. She recommends serving her tasty
Franc (another in this column sourced from Weinbau Vineyard) with
shanks and Portobello mushrooms sautéed in the Cabernet Franc.
flavors of sweet cherry, toasty oak, bell pepper and complex herbs and
notes earned this wine a Double Gold Medal at the Seattle Wine Awards in
Patterson Cellars is located in the wine warehouse district of
Woodinville with an
additional tasting opportunity near the Pike Place Market in Seattle on
Avenue. Their flavorful Cabernet Franc offers aromas and flavors
and vegetal/olive notes with nuances of tobacco, coffee and spicy oak.
It is a
fine accompaniment to meats from the grill and hearty sauces.
Winemakers Myles Anderson and Gordy Venneri really have a thing for
Franc made in the big style with lots of toasty oak wrapped around ripe
flavors. Each of these proprietors is a gourmet cook and creates
preparations to accompany their wines. Look for aromas of earthy
cedary tobacco and blueberry. The palate lingers with flavors of
coconut and peppery berry.
Venturing into the Bordeaux blend arena this wine is 60% Cabernet Franc
40% Merlot, all from the Cordon Grove Vineyard in Prosser. Ripe
and toasty vanilla greet your nose, and the palate offers flavors of
baking spice and buttery toasted hazelnuts on the finish.
Winemaker/owner Karen LaBonte is proud to announce the opening of Trio's
downtown Walla Walla tasting room in the historic Drumheller Building.
winery had it's beginnings in the winery "incubators" at the Walla Walla
but can now share its wares downtown! Trio Cabernet Franc offers earthy
aromas of smoke and vanilla with hints of cherry and herbs. The
palate is bright
with cherry flavors and lingers with smoky/spicy notes of toasty oak and
Valley View Vineyards is one of the oldest wineries in Oregon, being founded in 1972 as a revival of the 19th century winery created by Southern Oregon pioneer Peter Britt. The Anna Maria label is named after the family matriarch Anna Maria Wisnovsky. Look for aromas and flavors of juicy plum and berry, mint, green olive, spicy earth and notes of vanilla and cranberry.
Terra Vina Winery
Owners/winemakers Carole and Karl Dinger express their mission as environmentally conscious people and vineyardists through their winery name Terra Vina. The fruit for this wine came from Flying B Vineyard in Hermiston, Oregon, in the Columbia Valley AVA. Traditionalist tasters on our panel lauded the wine for restrained use of oak and varietal veracity exemplified by aromas and flavors tangy plum, floral and herbal notes, strawberry and hints of tobacco, coffee and cocoa.
Agate Ridge Vineyard
Agate Ridge Vineyard is located on Nick Young road off the highway to Crater Lake - Highway 62 - just 10 miles east of I-5. If you are traveling through southern Oregon, take a detour to this restful stop and enjoy tastes of Agate Ridge wines daily through October. Don't miss the Cabernet Franc redolent of blueberry, boysenberry and spice with notes of Earl Grey tea and spicy oak.