Leah Jorgensen Cellars | Dracaena Wines | Ehlers Estate Winery

Hello Friends,

Just about every day, as wine o'clock approaches, you can find me uncorking or unscrewing a new wine adventure. Being a wine enthusiast, a wine writer, and someone who appreciates the liquid expression of place, a person’s vision, and Mother Nature’s influence, I find wine to be one of the most intriguing beverages out there. It is an area of interest where you never run out of great people to meet and new things to taste and learn.

The wines selected for this post are rock-solid, small-production Cabernet Francs from the west coast. Cabernet Franc, along with Sauvignon Blanc, are the genetic parents of Cabernet Sauvignon. I know this seems unlikely on the surface, but they really did manage to produce the beloved variety many hail as the undisputed King of Reds. On the west coast, however, Cabernet Franc is generally made in a somewhat riper, more generous style with an intensity and structure that can sometimes bear a resemblance to Cabernet Sauvignon. As a result, you can easily get a feel for the relationship between these wines, and even be tricked in a blind tasting. In my opinion, west coast Cabernet Francs are natural partners to grilled fare. And with grilling season upon us, these are very nice wines to have on hand for small outdoor dinner parties with family and good friends. For further information and where you can find these wines, please see my tasting notes below.

Leah Jorgensen Cellars 2015 Cabernet Franc

Leah Jorgensen Cellars 2015 Cabernet Franc (SRP $25): This wine is crafted by self-professed wine nerd and social media rock star Leah Jorgensen. Inspired by the lovely red wines of France’s Loire Valley, Ms. Jorgensen tapped into her southern Oregon roots and specializes in the production of expressive wines centered on Cabernet Franc -- the signature red-wine grape of the Loire. Fruit for this bottling was sourced from Crater View Ranch and Sundown Vineyard, both LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology) certified sites in southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley appellation. This gorgeous wine delivers a harmonious melody of red plum, black cherry, spiced fruitcake, tea rose, and trailing cacao nib aromas and flavors – with layers of fresh fruit being more prevalent on the palate. It has a succulent texture with good depth and length. Perfect with grilled fare, including chicken, pork, lamb sausage, and veggies -- especially something like a portobello mushroom burger. A very satisfying and enjoyable southern Oregon-grown Cabernet Franc well worth seeking out. Only 243 cases of this wine were produced. Region: Rogue Valley, Oregon. Other info: ABV 14.5%, matured in mostly used French oak barrels along with some stainless steel, cork enclosure. Click here to find this wine.

Dracaena Wines Paso Robles 2014 Cabernet Franc

Dracaena Wines Paso Robles 2014 Cabernet Franc (SRP $32): Dracaena Wines is owned and operated by wine lovers Lori and Michael Budd. Pursuing their passion for wine and with plans to retire to California, the couple purchased property in Arroyo Grande to fulfil their dream. Pronounced druh-see-nuh, the winery’s name and label honors the memory of their Weimaraner; a companion and friend of 14 years. The Budds are also the founders of the hugely popular #CabFrancDay, an international celebration of the grape that occurs every December 4th on Twitter (if you are a producer, ping them if you’re interested in getting involved). Their 2014 Cabernet Franc is fruit-forward and lush, with inviting aromas of ripe red berries; namely raspberry and black cherry, alongside notes of plum preserve. The aromas extend to the palate, and are accented by spice-infused milk & dark chocolate bark with suggestions of toasted vanilla bean. A generous wine with ample richness, it manages to remain surprisingly light on its feet; though it is very much full-bodied -- just well proportioned. A 10% addition of Petite Sirah adds dimension and oomph, increasing the wine’s pleasure factor. Region: Paso Robles, California. Other info: ABV 14.3%, aged in one year old French oak barrels for 2 years, cork enclosure. Click here to find this wine.

Ehlers Estate 2013 Cabernet Franc

Ehlers Estate 2013 Cabernet Franc (SRP $60): Ehlers Estate is situated just north of the town of St. Helen in Napa County and specializes in Bordeaux-inspired varietal wines; all grown on their historic 42-acre vineyard. The site is bio-dynamically farmed and 100% certified organic. A non-interventionist approach is employed in the cellar to craft estate-grown wines that best reflect the unique characteristics of the growing season and site. Ehlers Estate’s 2013 Cabernet Franc is an appealing wine from an exceptional vintage. Deep purple in color, this full-bodied wine offers expressive aromas and flavors filled with high-toned red berry fruits and plum joined by a generous sprinkling of brown baking spice and a delicate wisp of sweet cream. A seamless texture and ripe tannins give way to a fruit-driven finish of admirable length. Region: St. Helena, Napa Valley, California. Other info: ABV 14.2%, 100% CCOF Certified Organic, 100% Cabernet Franc, matured 100% French oak – 50% new, cork enclosure. Click here to find this wine.