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Cabernet Franc

Recent Tastings

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Two more quality entries from the Finger Lakes’ 2011 Riesling vintage (see here and here) and a solid Virginia Cabernet Franc:

Knapp Winery 2011 Riesling, Finger Lakes, NY — Semi-sweet wine with a nose of tropical fruit salad. Bright, medium to high acidity with a slightly heavy mouth feel owing to the 28% residual sugar. Flavors of melon and tropical fruits with hints of orange and bananas. Good value at under $20.00. 1/2, $16.95 per bottle.

Lakewood Vineyards 2011 Riesling, Finger Lakes, NY — This wine is similar to the Knapp offering. It has medium to high acidity with aromas of melons and pineapples. It is on the sweet side of semi-sweet with flavors of apples, pears, and citrus with a slightly tangy finish akin to pineapple. While it rates the same as the Knapp in my book, it is a slightly more impressive value. 1/2, $12.99 per bottle.

Cardinal Point Winery 2010 Clay Hill Cabernet Franc, Monticello, VA — Deep color with aromas of dark cherries and plums with vegetal notes. Good acidity, soft tannins, and flavors of black cherries with dark fruits and pepper. 1/2, Appx. $20 per bottle.

Keswick 2010 Cabernet Franc

As I have noted before, my recent move to Nashville has left me with very limited access to to Virginia wine. I’m still adjusting to the loss. But every once in a while I get lucky. Recently, my wife took a brief trip to Charlottesville, VA.  She came back with three bottles of Keswick Vineyards2010 Cabernet Franc.


Even the Kitty Likes Keswick

This is an excellent offering from Virginia. It has warm aromas of cedar, violets, and red fruits in the glass with a nice, rich color. The wine is full bodied and has smooth, well-integrated tannins. The flavors of cherries, oak, violets, and hints of tobacco merge to embody the characteristics of the Cabernet franc grape. Well worth the $30 price tag. Highly recommended. 1/2

Keswick Vineyards
1575 Keswick Winery Drive
Keswick, VA  22947
(434) 244-3341
@keswickvineyard

Recent Tastings

Pollak Vineyards 2006 Cabernet Franc, Monticello, VA — Lovely wine with aromas of coffee, chocolate, and raspberries/currants. Medium to full bodied with a smooth mouth feel and gentle but well integrated tannins. The flavor carries a nice undercurrent of black pepper and a bit of spice on the back end. 1/4, Appx. $20.00 per bottle.

Souverain 2009 Chardonnay, Sonoma/Napa Valley, CA — Mostly Sonoma grapes with a few blended in from Napa, this has a strong nose of pears, nectarines, and apples. Light, pale color with good acidity. The palate is not as fruit forward as the nose would leave one to believe, and the oak is certainly not as overpowering as many California chardonnays, though there is a toasty flavor at the end and a creamy feeling going down. 1/4, Appx. $13.99 per bottle.

Michael David Winery 2008 Petite Petit (85% Petite Sirah and 15% Petit Verdot), Lodi, CA — A number of good petite sirahs out of Lodi. This one has an oaky, jammy aroma with a hint of white pepper. Mocha and dark chocolate notes coat flavors of jammy red fruit that brightens the back of the tongue. Medium to full bodied with fairly strong tannins that add some bitterness. Good value that may reward a couple of years of cellaring. 1/4, Appx. $17.50 per bottle

Dinner Party: Four Lovely Reds and a Dessert Wine to Die For

As some of you know, my family has moved from the Washington, DC area to Nashville, Tennessee. While I will try to continue following Virginia wines, and will post about them when I can, the move will (hopefully) result in more posts about the Tennessee wine world and a broader range of wines generally. In fact, my first goal is to visit some of the many Nashville wine & spirit shops and recommend some of my favorites. And, of course, most of the restaurants I write about will be Nashville establishments as opposed to D.C. and Virginia eateries.

That said, I am still in the process of writing about some of my experiences in D.C. before the move. One of those was a dinner party that my wife and I threw for some of our closest friends. Moving is a wonderful excuse to drink down one’s wine stash. Given that we had a lot of red left in the basement, we decided to cook up some skirt steak and share a few of our better wines with some folks who we knew would appreciate it. Here are the wines we tasted, in the order in which we opened them. Any of these would be a treat for your dinner guests.

1999 Opus One, Napa Valley, CA — Violet color with a garnet hue, this blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, malbec, and petite verdot had aromas of black cherries and blackberries. It had smooth and slightly bitter tannins that provided the wine a strong backbone. Dark fruits and cassis on the palate, later accompanied by a lovely smokiness. 1/4, Appx. $200 per bottle.

Castello di Brolio 2005 Chianti Classico DOCG, Chianti, Italy — Deep red/violet with aromas of leather, pepper, and cassis. This wine has a bright palate with rich tannins and a warm mouth feel. There are notes of cranberries, blackberries, and raspberries. This was lovely with the steak, but could also be appreciated on its own. 1/2, Appx. $90 per bottle.

Chateau O’Brien 2005 Limited Reserve Tannat, Virginia — Deep purple color with aromas of old leather, oak, blackberries, and plums. Well balanced with soft, smooth tannins and a bouquet of dark fruits. This is an excellent varietal wine that also went well with a nice, creamy gorgonzola. , Appx. $70 per bottle.

Chateau Ladouys 2003 Saint-Estephe AC, Bordeaux, France — Subtle aromas of cherries and strawberry jam with flavors of cherries and raspberries. This Bordeaux has a warm mouth feel and softened tannins. A bit of blue cheese brought out a bit of complexity absent at first sip. 1/2, Appx. $35 per bottle.

Oh, and even after these lovely reds, we just couldn’t help ourselves . . .

Inniskillin 2002 Cabernet Franc Icewine — Brown/purple color with aromas of raisins, prunes, and honey. I tried to write full tasting notes for this, but I could not sufficiently describe the experience. Outstanding dessert wine. , Appx. $80 per dessert bottle.

Chateau O’Brien 2007 Cabernet Franc

A bottle of Chateau O’Brien Tannat has been aging in my cellar for a couple of years now, just waiting for the right occasion.  Recently, Dezel at My Vine Spot posted a brief report on Chateau O’Brien’s 2007 Cabernet Franc, which also sounds like a winner.

Standouts From the D.C. Wine & Food Festival

A couple of weeks ago I attended the annual D.C. International Wine & Food Festival. I have attended this event 3 or 4 times in the last several years, and the number and quality of the vineyards attending has varied. I was planning on skipping this year, as they once again held the Festival at the Ronald Reagan Building, which makes for a very crowded room. However, at the last minute I found a discounted ticket at Deals for Deeds, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

While I am sure it is a useful event for those in the trade, I would probably not recommend attending next year’s Festival unless you really have a passion for wine. This is particularly true as several major regions that have attended previous festivals were missing this year. For example, I do not recall seeing a single winery from Napa Valley, Sonoma, Lodi, or, for that matter, anywhere in California.

Moreover, I was immediately reminded that a wine festival is often the worst imaginable place to taste and evaluate wine. That said, there were a few standouts at this year’s festival, which I have listed below by region but in no particular order of relative quality. My apologies, detailed notes were impossible.

Virginia
Horton Vineyards 2009 Viognier
Horton Vineyards 2006 Norton
Corcoran Vineyards 2009 Malbec
Delfosse Vineyards 2007 Cuvee Laurent
Rappahannock Cellars 2008 Cabernet Franc

Finger Lakes, New York
Dr. Konstantin Frank 2009 Semi Dry Riesling
Fox Run Vineyards 2008 Chardonnay Reserve
Fox Run Vineyards 2008 Cabernet Franc
Wagner Vineyards Niagara
Red Newt Cellars 2009 Semi-Dry Riesling
Casa Larga 2007 Fiori Cabernet Franc Ice Wine

New Zealand
Waimea Estates 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Nelson — a quick note on this wine. It might have been my favorite wine of the Festival and, to my recollection, was the first wine that I have tasted from the Nelson region of New Zealand. I found it incredible that there was actually a representative from the winery in New Zealand at the show. Someone in the trade that I ran into later told me that Waimea was there looking for a distributor in the States. If accurate, and you happen to be a distributor reading this post, you should definitely touch base with the folks at Waimea.
Tarras Vineyards 2008 Pinot Noir, Central Otago

Greece
Nasiakos Moschofilero, Mantinia Valley, Arcadia
Achaia Clauss Muscat of Patras

South Africa (there were a lot of value wines from South Africa on display at this year’s Festival)
Simonsig 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Stellenbosch
Vansha Sauvignon Blanc/Chenin Blanc/Viognier
Indaba 2010 Merlot
Solms-Astor Cape Jazz Shiraz, Cape Winelands
Doohlof 2009 Dark Lady of the Labyrinth Pinotage, Wellington
Seven Sisters 2009 Bukettraube, Swartland
Nederburg 2010 Lyric (Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc)