Tag Archives: Cabernet Franc

Tasting Note: Silver Leaf Cabernet Franc

I had this last night with flank steak, parmesan potatoes, and a compound butter made with spicy Italian peppers.  It held up to the heat quite well, I was very impressed.  Silver Leaf is a relatively new winery, located quite far up the Leelanau peninsula near the pretty town of Sutton’s Bay.  It appears from a quick check of their website that they’ve sold out of this vintage, which is a real pity.

Silver Leaf Cabernet Franc (2013) Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan – $42

Color: medium purple-black.

Aroma: tar, plum, and a little heat; hints of stewed fruit as well.

Taste: black plum and black pepper, with a touch of walnut. The mouthfeel is silky with tannins on the side of the mouth, very reminiscent of a good Bordeaux.

This needs a touch of chill – it’s labelled as 13% alcohol but I suspect it’s on the high side. Drink now or in the next 24 months.

A big of a splurge, but this is recommended.  A great Bordeaux-style American red, from an unexpected location.

 

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Tasting Note – Bowers Harbor 2896 Rosé

One of the wines I picked up last year in Traverse City – should be a good pairing for the roasted vegetable quesadillas I’m making for dinner tonight.  This is a blend of 67% Cabernet France and 33% Merlot.

Bowers Harbor 2896 Rosé (2014) Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan – $32

Color: bright copper with a hint of orange.

Aroma: strawberry fruit, a hint of vanilla and spice.

Taste: Creamy strawberry and red currant fruit, moderate acidity, just a touch of tannin, with great balance front to back. Although a little more length on the finish would be nice. This is a food rosé, it’s absolutely dry and it has enough heft to match with a cold steak salad, roasted vegetables, or salmon.

 

Tasting Note: 2 Lads Cabernet Franc

One of my favorites from the Traverse City area of Michigan.  I’m enjoying this with onion-mushroom-olive pizza.  This has about 17% Merlot added.  When I tasted it at the winery last year I was very impressed by the nose – let’s see how it’s held up.

2 Lads Cabernet Franc (2013) Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan – $32

Color: dark purplish in the center, fading just a bit to purple-red on the edge of the glass.

Aroma: earthy, with notes of black walnut and dark cherry.  Inviting!

Taste: nice and full, with enough acidity to make this a food wine, and a nice balance of cherry fruit and earth/oak notes throughout the mouth.  The finish is somehow creamy, fruity, and earthy all at once, and lasts at least 15 seconds.

A really, really good bottle of wine, perfect for anything from pizza to flank steak. Still one of my favorite Michigan wines.  Recommended!

 

 

Tasting Note: French Valley Cabernet Franc-Merlot

I visited French Valley during my second trip to Traverse City.  They have a really nice, spacious, comfortable tasting room that I wish I’d had time to lounge in.

As you all know, I’m a huge Cabernet Franc fan, so this bottle was definitely something I had to put into my trunk.

French Valley Vineyards Cabernet Franc-Merlot (2012) Leelanau Peninsual, MI – $30

Color: medium garnet red.

Aroma: oak, earth, and a dusty red-wine nose, then red fruit as it opens up.

Taste: plums and red fruit on the front, then some black pepper and spice through the mid-palate. A hint of more sweetish fruit on the finish, and the tannins are soft. Drink this now. After about 30 minutes, there are some anise notes present as well.

A nice bottle, but I think I got it 6 months to a year late – I would have like a little more chewy tannic character.

 

Tasting Notes: Marie de Beauregard Chinon

Chinon is an appellation in the Loire valley of France – and it’s just about the only appellation in the region that makes almost exclusively red wines.  The Loire is best known for Chardonnay, Sauvingon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and Melon de Bourgogne.  Chinon wines are typically straight Cabernet Franc (although up to 10% Cabernet Sauvignon is allowed) – this bottle is 100% Cab Franc.

Marie de Beauregard (2014) Chinon, France – $20

Color: quite dark, purplish black – a good sign that this is made from very ripe, concentrated grapes, so it should avoid the off-putting green bell pepper notes that are sometimes found in Cab Franc.

Aroma: bingo! Ground black pepper, earthy notes of leather and mushroom, and some dark berry fruit underneath that.  I’m really looking forward to the next step…

Taste: classic Cabernet Franc, this is an excellent example of the Chinon style.  Blackberries and black pepper, with moderate acidity and medium tannins on the front and sides.  This could be aged for another 4 years, but it’s certainly drinkable now.

Pairing suggestions: straightforward roast beef or leg of lamb – something with some fatty richness to ameliorate the tannins; and the earthy notes would work wonders with the mushrooms in Beef Wellington. Also consider medium-rich cheeses like crottins de chevre (aged goat cheese medallions), Mimolette, or Gloucester.

Highly recommended!  Imported by Pasternak Wines, and they distribute in all 50 states.

Chateau de Leelanau Cabernet Franc Rosé (2013) Leelanau Peninsula

One of my recent purchases from up in Traverse City.  You know I’m a fan of Cabernet Franc, and made it an especial point to taste everything from that grape that I could lay my hands on when I traveled north.

Color: bright berry pink – I mean bright almost to the point of cotton-candy!

Aroma: berries predominate, with a little bramble and forest floor.  Smells juicy.

Taste: a nice fruity mouthful with bramble/spice notes.  Just a hint of sweetness up front that rapidly gives way to complex fruit & bramble in the mid palate. A good touch of tannin and acid on the finish makes this a good food rosé.    

Tasted with roasted root vegetables – parsnips, carrots, onions, purple potatoes, white beets, and sweet potatoes.  Provided a nice contrast & enhancement for the earthy/salty vegetables.  Would also go great with flank steak or lots of tailgate foods

$17 –  Recommended!

Grape Varieties in Michigan

After hitting approximately 30 wineries in Michigan – both in the south-central part of the state, and up north in Traverse City, I have a few observations on varieties.

I’m glad to see some plantings of Austrian grapes – Gruner Veltliner and Blaufrankisch (aka Lemburger).  When you consider the embayments and lakes around Traverse City, these seem like obvious choices, given their similarity in latitude, weather, and mesoclimate. I hope to see a lot more plantings of these grapes in this part of the US in the future. They provide something different from the same-old Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, etc. There’s also a nice heritage connection – many of the Europeans who settled the Great Lakes area came from the same stomping grounds as those grapes: Mitteleuropa aka Central Europe aka the old Habsburg Austro-Hungarian empire. I grew up surrounded by Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, Germans, and Poles, and their cuisine is perfectly suited for these grapes.

There’s much more Pinot Noir in the fields than I was expecting, even given its popularity in the last 10-15 years, and its suitability for a harsher continental climate.  I don’t see a particular style emerging just yet; many of the vintages are somewhere in the middle between the light, delicate, fruit & cream style, and the meaty, mushroomy, darker and spicier style of Pinot.

I continue to see Cabernet Franc planted in good quantities; most, if not all, of the Bordeaux-style red blends are heavy on the Cab Franc. As with the Austrian grapes, I think this is a particularly well-suited variety for this part of the US – and it doesn’t hurt that it’s one of my favorite grapes.

It’s also pleasing to see more than just Riesling and Chardonnay in whites: there are plentiful choices in Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Chenin Blanc.