Archive for ‘Cabernet Franc’

February 24, 2019

Liber Farm & Winery, Signature Red, 2015

We did not understand this wine.  We were baffled by the weight, stunned by the attack, left listless by the brashness of the blend, and confused by its identity.  The Similkameen is awash in wonderful wine, you almost could do no wrong.  Or so we thought.  The 40% Merlot is like a chimera, the Cabernet Franc the Penn to the blend’s Teller.  I don’t think we’ve drunk a more unappealing and mixed up BC red in years.  Enough said.

 

Price: $28 as Save-On.

 

Market Liquidity: Did I say “enough said” already?

February 3, 2019

Tinhorn Creek Cabernet Franc, 2016

Yeah, OK.  I mean what were you expecting?  It’s not a discovery Chinon style.  It’s a half decent Okanagan red en route to being, several vintages down the road, er, pretty good.  It’s very berry, fruity, raspberry, red currant and raisin forward, not musky or aromatic.  It lacked depth.  A little flat for us especially as (for Cab Franc) it seemed a little weak with meat and better as a sipper, Pinot Noir style.  Price point is good and for those “edging” into CF territory a decent introduction.

 

Price: $26 at Save-On.

 

Market Liquidity: Only a notch above ho-hum.

June 1, 2018

Bartier Brothers Cabernet Franc, 2015

Good gosh do we love this wine.  Simple, straightforward, delectable.  If we’ve plowed through three bottles we’ve emptied six.  I think I’ve lost track.  This is anti-snob material though.  It’s not going to appeal to the masses but it will appeal to anyone with a nose for value and integrity.

 

It starts off funky.  On the open pour it hits a sour note.  Barnyard. Expect to be disappointed.  Give it air.  It seems pompous but decant.  Or even 15 minutes in the glass.  And then, a blossom, a blossoming.  It’s rustic and thoughtful and mellow and layered and versatile.  There is no pretense.  Your aren’t getting a “cheap” Oculus or Prospectus; rather you’re getting one of the finest table reds BC has to offer.  In our opinion.

 

Price: Around $24 in various private and public liquor stores (although the vineyard will sell in 3, 6, 9, and I’d recommend a direct order, or pick it up where you can get a discount on six).

 

Market Liquidity: One of the most reasonably priced and most pleasurable “honest” reds in the BC OK.

April 6, 2018

Kraze Legz Black Bottom Stomp, 2011

There is nothing bad to say about this wine.  As a wine.  It’s a generous blend, fruit forward, lovely notes of tobacco and plum, easy to drink, food friendly.  Has the velvet of Merlot and a bit of the funk of Cab Franc.  If it sold at $22 or less I’d buy a couple of cases.  No doubt it’s sold out at the vineyard due to it’s remarkable approachability.

 

Here’s the rub: This is a wine that France and Argentina and Australia can produce and retail at $10 less.  Gismondi recently gave 91 points to a Cotes du Roussillon blend (Syrah and Grenache); different varietals I know, but wowza, it just flattened the KL.  And the CdR has years ahead of it.  That is just the tip of the iceberg.  Half decent and pretty good and not too bad BC wines are regularly overpriced.

 

This wine, which btw we really enjoyed, I want to stress that part, but this wine is indicative of the reason we started posting seven years ago.  I mean you have to either pay through the nose for Hypothesis, or suck it up for generic blends, and the decent, everyday wines, like the KL, well they are wonderful to drink but sting at the cash register.

 

There is room here for a whole editorial on the nascent BC wine industry, tax, labour, distribution, regs, the lot, and we don’t need to belabour it.  This is a simple consumer blog.  We have after tax dollars, not too many, and we like wine.  And, importantly, we’d love to support the BC wine industry more fully.  But it’s a snub to average wine drinkers that great BC wines are $20 more than foreign equivalents and good wines about $10 more.

 

Price: $29.99 before taxes at Save-On Foods in White Rock.

 

Market Liquidity: Crazy name but krazy good.

December 31, 2016

Seven Stones Speaking Rock Cabernet Franc, 2013

seven-stones-speaking-rock-cabernet-franc-2013

Another “Big BC Red” hauled out for the season.  Think of an air-horn, the kaboom in a Road Runner explosion, a thud and thump of Cabernet Franc so ridiculously assertive it nearly deafens.  Far from our favorite amongst Seven Stones many fine reds, this is still wonderful, if unsettling.  Of a different vintage John Schreiner wrote that the SS CF is a “swashbuckling” example of the varietal.  That and then some.  The deepness of the berry flavour is immediate and lasting, mitigated by a coarseness that is not so much aromatic as dead weight.

 

If you’re new to SS this shouldn’t be your first bottle.  But if you like their wines, which are grown in the Similkameen Valley in a place as near to heaven as BC gets (please, no federal park, please, no dam on the US side of the border), this is must for a sense of how much can be done on the north slopes of the valley, especially up against e.g., their Meritage or Syrah.

 

Price: $30 at the vineyard (although not that hard to source in private shops for around $36-$40).

 

Market Liquidity: An Okanagan heavyweight without the deftness or broad appeal found elsewhere in the Seven Stones catalog.

August 18, 2016

Quinta Ferreira Cabernet Franc, 2010

Quinta Ferreira Cabernet Franc, 2010

An exceptional BC Cab Franc but maybe not an exceptional Cab Franc?

 

Cherries, berries, with a hint of candied flowers, that soapy sweet smell of guest soaps back in the day, soft and floral and fake, then a punchy spice mix on the palate, a mix of clove, star anise, pepper.  To my mind A1, if at times without polish.  Not as swoon-worthy as the Alegria blend, but delicious to the dregs.

 

Price: $30 at the now defunct White Rock Swirl.

 

Market Liquidity: Assertive but not exceptionally assured.

July 12, 2016

Cassini Cellars Cabernet Franc, Collector’s Edition, 2012

Polished to within an inch of its life.  Any smoother and it would be Simoniz.  For those of us who purposefully pick out a Cabernet Franc (as opposed to say a Meritage), we probably have a predilection for a certain CF flavour profile.  I err to the side of what I call the saddle room, the pointsters call it the pencil shavings; I like the grittier elements, the musky, earthy, spiciness of CF.  This is floral, fruity and brimming with a heady bouquet of violets and candied fruit, much more reminiscent of a California Zin than (to my mind) Loire CF.  In fact, it has an assertiveness, a middle finger to Napa/Sonoma: Anything you can do Okanagan can do too.

Cassini Cabernet Franc 2012

Given the price point, I was hesitant.  I suspect a boozer willing to cough up $35 for a BC red will be happy with this bottle; in the end I was.  It is, after all, annoyingly food friendly and deceptively easy to drink despite an obnoxious 14.9 per cent alcohol volume.  It’s well balanced and has an elegance which would suit an occasion where a wine twice the price might be expected.  We’re going to taste test compare with the much cheaper Cassini Quattro, later this week.

 

Price: $35 at Swirl in White Rock before they closed; sold out at the vineyard.

 

Market Liquidity: Worth it but maybe not so worthy.

January 26, 2016

Burrowing Owl Cabernet Franc, 2013

Not Burrowing Owl’s finest moment. But what a fine bottle. If you can find it.

Burrowing Owl Cabernet Franc 2013

In restaurants, the Meritage features prominently in the near or plus $100 level. It sets the standard. The CF falls far below, and is less common, but so satisfying nonetheless.

 

The Merlot is a little slick. I can take it or leave it The Athene, of the BO expensive reds, my go-to, often feels faultless. Reviewers take a hard line on the Athene, but year after year there is some consistency that is almost sentimental. The CF seems to me a wine of many contradictions, directions, nuance and outright mess. But what a gorgeous, attractive and intriguing mess. From cherry to charcoal, from the barn to the orchard, it is sweet and dark, lively and leaden, aggressive and soft.

 

I drank it first at a Christmas event; thank you Julie for splurging. It spoke to me like a star leading the three wise men. Then I sucked it up and spent over $40 for a bottle. That is too much money. I regret spending the money. But I don’t regret drinking the wine.

Thrift week is over. All hail BC’s ridiculous wine market.

Sometimes complexity is a lot of fun. It’s said that when John Huston was writing the screenplay for The Maltese Falcon, when he ran across some contradictions and holes in the novel, and called Hammett flor clarification, Dashiell was all “well, yes, I know, whatever.” That is this wine, classic without being a classic. I simply wish I could afford it.

 

Price: The vineyard has it at $33, before all the add-ons. Not so lucky if you live in YVR. Ka-ching.  Try Liberty.

 

Market Liquidity: It will grow on you. And you’ll be sorry.

April 20, 2015

Jean-Maurice Raffault Chinon, 2013

Jean-Maurice Raffault Chinon, 2013

We like Chinon. The Cabernet-Franc wine that is. We can’t afford Chinon. The wine or the ticket to France. So we buy cab franc from South American and other new world growers. The Raffault is a base model or entry level sipper that makes a lovely late in the day red for lighter fare and just plain enjoyment. It doesn’t have the power of better bottles, nor the heft, but it still evokes that musty, barnyard, smoky, berry, leathery flavour of CF. Readily available in BC at $22, a great intro for those unaccustomed to masculine reds.

 

Price: $22 at BCL.

 

Market Liquidity: Good value. What else is there to say?

April 9, 2015

2013 La Grange aux Belles Anjou Rouge 53

La Grange aux Belles Anjou Rouge 2013

Mild, pleasant, pleasing. Uncontroversial. No one is going to slap their head and ask about the provenance. Or exclaim” I coulda had a V-8.” We couldn’t help but think of something archaic though—a 1920s jazz hit sung through a megaphone, a depression era dance contest. It drinks elegantly but without pizazz and is reminiscent of some other red you drank a while back but can’t recall. It somehow lacks a centre, a theme: Is it Loire pretending to be Cru Beaujolais or Loire wishing it was Rhone? Regardless, tasty, leather, green olive, hay, sour cherry, but a tad forgettable.

Homemade Jim Lahey Pizza

It sipped well but didn’t have the legs for homemade thin crust pizza.

 

Price: $16.70 USD before hefty Canadian duties.

 

Market Liquidity: I could drink it all the time, but it won’t impress your vino snob colleagues.