Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Checking in on 2015 Virginia Cabernet Francs

Cabernet Franc has been Virginia’s unofficial signature red grape for some time now, although I’d argue other Bordeaux varieties like Merlot and, more frequently, Petit Verdot shine just as bright.

According to the
2015 crush report, almost 400 acres of Cabernet Franc were planted in Virginia, which puts it behind only Chardonnay in terms of total acreage.

This grape does very well in Virginia’s humid climate and clay-heavy soils. Many wineries produce varietal Cabernet Franc, and even more use it as a blending grape, so if you haven’t tried one yet, there are plenty out there.

I recently tasted through five different Virginia Cabernet Francs, all from the 2015 vintage, and found a whole lot to like. My notes below…

2015 Blenheim Vineyards Cabernet Franc - Virginia
SRP: $22
Light ruby color. Aromas of sweet raspberries and juicy cherries, roses, cola, red apple peel, hint of clove. Medium-bodied with bright acidity and light tannins, fresh and appealing with red currants, raspberries. I get lots of black tea, clove, cola and rose petals. Vibrant, tangy, crisp, drinking very well now but will improve for a few years. Includes 5% Merlot, aged 9 months in almost all old oak. (89 points)

2015 Slater Run Vineyards - Virginia, Northern Virginia, Loudoun County
SRP: $25
Pale ruby color. Aromas of tart red cherries, sweet raspberries, roses, oregano, a lighter, fresher aromatic display. On the palate, soft tannins, fresh acidity, on a medium-bodied frame with an easy-drinking appeal. Notes of cola, sweet coffee, chocolate, mixed with leaves and roasted bell pepper. A lighter, early-drinking style with fresh appeal. All estate Cabernet Franc aged 12 months in three-year-old French oak. 12.5% alcohol. (84 points)

2015 Tarara Winery Cabernet Franc - Virginia, Northern Virginia, Loudoun County
SRP: $25
Medium ruby color. Aromas of tangy currants, black cherries, campfire smoke, roasted coffee, cola. Medium-bodied with a fresh and juicy appeal, medium acidity, medium-soft tannins. Plummy with black cherries, mixed with an interesting combination of black tea, roasted chestnut and earthy spice notes. Solid example of the quality of Cabernet Franc coming out of Loudon County. Planted in 1988 – with some silt, loam, limestone soils. All estate Cabernet Franc aged 14 months in 1/3 new French oak. (87 points)

2015 Horton Vineyards Cabernet Franc Private Reserve - Virginia, Central Virginia, Orange County
Medium ruby color. On the nose, tart black cherries, pomegranate, with cracked pepper, coffee, violets, rhubarb. Bright acidity frames the wine with some light tannins, suave black cherries and tart black currant – mixed with loamy soil, and black pepper. Fun stuff to drink over the next few years, maybe more. 100% Cabernet Franc, 13.8% alcohol. (87 points)

2015 Williamsburg Winery Cabernet Franc Trianon - Virginia
SRP: $40
Deep ruby color. Bright raspberries and red currants, rose petals, rhubarb, cracked pepper and broth notes. Medium-bodied, dusty tannins, vibrant acidity – tart red cherries, raspberries, black cherries, notes of chewing tobacco and menthol and black pepper – toasty oak and roasted coffee but its integrated so well – smoothed out nicely with an hour of air – delicious. Curious how this will age over the next 2-5 years. Mostly estate-grown Cabernet Franc with 7% Petit Verdot. Aged in a mix of new and used French and American oak. 12.5% alcohol. (88 points)

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