By Chuck Hill
About Chuck PREVIOUS COLUMNS
Pinot Noir with
Red Rhone Varietals
Italian Varietals for 2016
Meat My Merlot REVIEWS BY
Pinot Noir with
Red Rhone Varietals
Italian Varietals for 2016
Meat My Merlot
REVIEWS BY VARIETAL
Cabernet Franc is most widely planted in the Loire region of France where it produces varietal red wines in Chinon, Bourgueil and other areas. In Bordeaux, it is used exclusively in blends with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and the other varietals listed above. New-world varietal versions of Cabernet Franc are found in the Pacific Northwest, California and Australia. It is widely used as a blending grape.
On its own, Cabernet Franc produces lighter wines than Cabernet Sauvignon although its aromas and flavors are similar. Additionally, the wines often exhibit vegetal notes of green bell pepper and leafy herbs. Peppery spiciness is not uncommon, nor are forward floral aromas of violets. In the vineyard, the variety blooms earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon and ripens correspondingly sooner. By the way, Cabernet Franc is the daddy of Cabernet Sauvignon (genetically), with mom being Sauvignon Blanc.
Petit Verdot is a late-ripening, inky dark grape whose origins are cloudy, but it probably came north to France with the Romans. When fully ripened (which doesn’t happen every year in Bordeaux), it makes a deeply colored, tannic red wine that is often added to Bordeaux blends for color and to stiffen the mid palate. It tends to be a magnet for oak-based aromas and flavors when aged in new barrels.
This 100% Cab Franc was crafted from 86% Weinbau Vineyard fruit and the remainder from Red Mountain. It is a food-friendly, medium-bodied style showing rich blueberry fruit with notes of herbs, cocoa and toasty oak. It was a favorite with my tasters and paired well with lamb from the grill.
Spring Valley Vineyard
This wine is named for Katherine Corkrum who emigrated to the Walla Walla Valley from Wales in 1897. She married Uriah Corkrum and became the matriarch of a historic Walla Walla farming family that planted the Spring Valley Vineyard in 1993. The wine is most like French Cab Franc as any in our tasting, offering cassis, dried herbs and hints of pepper and lilac.
The venerable Champoux Vineyard in Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills was planted in the 1970s and produces some of the state’s finest fruit. Winemaker Peter Rosback makes big wines and pulled this component out of the blending pool because it spoke to him of place and style. Rich dark fruits and a complex palate impressed the tasters and placed it near the top of the rankings.
Cooper Wine Company
Neil Cooper founded his Red Mountain winery based on years of planning and hard work. This wine comes from his estate vineyard and offers classic Cab Franc aromas and flavors of herbs and olives, bell pepper and cassis. The wine has a complex profile and lean flavors that pair well with meats from the grill and other hearty meals.
Columbia winemaker Sean Hails blended in some Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot to enhance the structure and color of this appealing Cab Franc. Blackberry and cherry fruit are wrapped in spice and toast from aging in French and American oak, 27% new. As the wine opens up it reveals dried herbs and green olive.
Owner Peggy Sullivan created this tier of wines for her O-S Winery, naming it for the Gaelic word for happiness. The wine was crafted by consulting winemaker Scott Greer of Sheridan Vineyards, which was the source of the fruit for the wine. Bell pepper, earthy mineral and vanilla greet the nose, and the palate bursts with juicy blackberry, cherry and peppery spice.
Grapes from Summit View Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley were used by winemaker/owner Tom Glase to craft this tempting Cab Franc. The wine reveals its fruity style with blackberry and cherry mingling with sweet tobacco, cocoa and toasty oak. Serve with meats from the grill or pasta with hearty sauces.
“Sogno” means dream in Italian, a name the winery feels suits this dreamy Cabernet Franc blend. Ten percent each of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon flesh out the herb and bell pepper character with ripe cherry and raspberry, finishing with notes of toasty oak and caramel.
Ginkgo Forest Winery
This wine comes from grower/owner/winemaker Mike Thiede’s estate vineyards on Washington's Wahluke Slope growing area. Look for ripe blueberry and vanilla with spicy oak and hints of dried herbs and floral notes.
Washington winemaker Brennon Leighton created B. Leighton Wines to showcase fruit from the crest of Olsen Hills in the Yakima Valley. The first vintage, 2012, was a collection of wines that included a Petit Verdot, Grenache and Syrah. This inky Petit Verdot shows cassis and black plums with notes of violets and toasty oak from French oak aging – 50% new oak.
This is only the third time that Tamarack Cellars has crafted a 100% Petit Verdot, this one from the famed Dionysus Vineyard along the Columbia River north of Pasco. French oak corrals rich huckleberry and cherry flavors and adds notes of caramel and spice to the finish of this tasty wine.
Owner/winemaker Paul Bianchi used fruit from the Stillwater Creek Vineyard on Washington’s Royal Slope to craft his elegant Petit Verdot. The complex wine features cherry, blueberry and herbs with just enough oak to give structure to the palate and intrigue to the finish – great with meats for fall dining.
Abacela winery and estate Fault Line Vineyard is just south of Roseburg, Oregon in the Umpqua Valley AVA. Winemaker Andrew Wenzl has been working Abacela wines since 2003 and has been head winemaker since 2008. This wine from the best barrels of Malbec features blackberry and black currant with complex notes of dark chocolate, toasty oak and lavender.
Center for Enology and Viticulture at Walla Walla Community College is
the source for wines that are released under the College Cellars label. Student winemakers craft the wines from start to finish and the
resulting wines compete in the marketplace at very attractive prices.
The 2013 Malbec offers juicy berry fruit, dried herbs and floral notes
on both the nose and palate – a very accommodating food wine!
The inspiration for Nine Hats came from the nine internationally acclaimed winemakers who contribute their time and talents to develop the wines of Long Shadows Vintners. This Malbec came from the Weinbau Vineyard on Washington’s Wahluke Slope and offers rich aromas and flavors of dark berry and cherry with spice and toasty oak.
Compass Wines head honchos Doug Charles and Will Parks adopted the pirate theme when they started their Ded. Reckoning wine brand more than a decade ago. Each wine is crafted by a Washington winemaker utilizing fruit from some of the State’s finest vineyards. The 2012 Malbec was made by Sean Boyd and offers ripe dark fruits, blackberry, toasty oak and a finish with hints of tobacco and caramel.
College Cellars Carmenere grapes come from the estate Clarke Vineyard, named for the late Stan Clarke, one of the early organizers of the school’s program. This vintage was aged in an American oak puncheon and offers bright cherry and berry fruit with earthy mineral and a round mouthfeel and finish.
Saget La Perriere
This wine was hailed as the best of the Cabernet Franc bottlings at my recent tasting. Hundreds of years of grape growing and winemaking give the French a distinct advantage in creating wines from local varieties. This wine scored high marks for complexity and food pairing, showing red fruits, earthy mineral, lilac and lavender and dried herbs – a classic.
Crios by Susana Balbo
Susana Balbo became the first female enologist in Argentina after graduating with honors from Don Boxco University in Mendoza in 1981. She has been an innovator in the industry and has championed using concrete “eggs” wine tanks, something that is now catching on in America. This “cutting edge” Malbec offers black cherries, oak spice and violets, and is a great pairing with meats from the grill or hearty pastas and stews.
This unique Malbec wine is crafted from hand-harvested grapes from
vineyards at an average elevation of over 3,000 feet. Extra-ripe fruit
produced a rich wine with an alcohol of just over 15%. The wine is aged
in 100% new French oak and offers ripe black cherry, baking spices, dark
chocolate and hints of fresh herbs.
To find contact information for most of the wineries
in the above column,