This past Saturday, we held a blind Cabernet Franc tasting at one of my favorite Loudoun County wineries, Corcoran Vineyards. This tasting pitted several Virginia Cabernet Franc varietal wines, against Cabernet Franc wines from New York, California, and the grape variety’s homeland, France. In total, we selected 11 wines for this tasting.
While Cabernet Franc is a minor blending grape in France and just about everywhere else it is grown, it has been known to salvage some Bordeaux vintages during years when Cabernet Sauvignon was less than average due to unfavorable weather conditions. On the other hand, or shall we say vine, in wine producing regions like New York, and here in Virginia, Cabernet Franc is made into a varietal wine and is usually the leading grape in most red wine blends. This is because Cabernet Franc grows well in cooler climates and ripens early, which bodes well for east coast growers.
Evaluating the Wines
Evaluating these wines, was a great cast of palates, ranging from sommeliers, Virginia winemakers and grape growers, winery owners, and wine enthusiasts like myself. One common bond amongst this tasting group, was that they all have an appreciation and enthusiasm for Virginia wine, and are all avid Virginia Cabernet Franc drinkers – you may be able to recognize a few in the pictures. Well, enough of my rambling; check out the rankings and enjoy the pictures below: (Scores based on a 100 point system)
1. Score 76, Carmody McKnight CF 2004, (Paso Robles, CA)
2. Score 74, Cave Ride Vineyard CF 2005, (Mt. Jackson, VA)
3. Score 71.4, Pellegrini Winery CF 2002, (North Folk Long Island, NY)
4. Score 71.1, Benevino Cellars CF 2007, (Loudoun County, VA)
Swirl, Sniff, Sip, and Score
5. Score 69, Sunset Hills Vineyard Reserve CF 2006, (Loudoun County, VA)
6. Score 66, Williamsburg Winery Trianon CF 2005, (Williamsburg, VA)
7. Score 63, Tarara Winery Reserve CF 2006, (Loudoun County, VA)
8. Score 62, Doukenie Winery CF 2006, (Loudoun County, VA)
The Winner - Carmody McKnight Cabernet Franc 2004 (CA)
9. Score 59, Domaine , Domaine de Coussergues CF 2005, (Languedoc, FR)
10. Score 58, Domaine des Corbillieres CF 2006, (Touraine, FR)
11. Score 55, Dom Semellerie CF 2007, (Chinon, FR)
Hard to believe that the wine that came in last place was the same wine that came in first place at a blind Cabernet Franc tasting I held in 2006. It was the Dom Semellerie 2005, which was a good overall vintage for the Loire Valley; whereas, 2007 was not. Vintage matters! So, do you notice any trends or surprises amongst the rankings? For me it would have to be the French wines. I enjoy Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley, especially the fruit driven Chinon examples, so I was somewhat surprised to see these wines positioned near the bottom. I knew the Virginia examples would do fairly well, not only because the tasters are Virginia wine lovers (smirk), but because these were some very good Cabernet Franc wines. I would like to thank Lori and Jim for hosting this tasting at their winery, and everyone for taking the first half of their Saturday to come out and do a little wine tasting homework. Check back, we look forward to setting up another blind tasting sometime soon – perhaps a blind horizontal tasting since 2007 was a good vintage year for Virginia.
Stay tuned ...more to come !!!
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