Merlot and cabernet sauvignon are the most planted varieties in Colorado, but do not make the most outstanding wines, in my opinion. Syrah and riesling make noteworthy wines, but are more recognizable as Rhône and German varieties. What Colorado needs is a grape to call its own. Napa cabernet is endlessly compared to Bordeaux and Oregon to Burgundy and still have to carve out their places in the wine world despite producing world-class wine.
|Creekside's new Franc label (much better than the old)!|
So a few weeks ago when I met with Tom Hill, a wine aficionado interested in Colorado wine whom I met on the WineBerserkers forum, I decided to show him a few local cabernet francs. Tom wrote that, "those four were all well-made and interesting renditions of Cab Franc. They didn't have the lush fruit of Calif Cab Francs, but they avoided the strong earthy/herbal/vegetal flavors I find in many Long Island Cab Francs. They had only hints of the earthy/mushroomy character you find in Loire CabFrancs. I guess they were more similar to Wash State Cab Francs than anything." My friend, Bruce Schoenfeld, has stated that he thinks Washington makes the best cabernet franc in the world (perhaps with exception to Cheval Blanc). Personally, I think the moderation of the CA fruit and Loire funk make Colorado cabernet franc some of the tastiest and most balanced examples of this variety anywhere in the world.
The notes below are mine, and I will let Tom comment on his impressions if he desires. And in full disclosure, we tasted these wines non-blind.
2008 Creekside Cellars, Cabernet Franc, Grand Valley AVA
The lightest and simplest of the four. This one is very floral and fruity. The bouquet is full of violets, raspberries and red cherries. There is a good acidity on the palate and the fruit is complemented by hints of cloves and spice. 13.2% abv Sample $35. Good/Very Good
2009 Boulder Creek Winery, Cabernet Franc, Grand Valley AVA
This is a bit bigger and bolder than the Creekside. There are still aromas of raspberries, but a smoky and meaty element is present on the nose. Red fruits, salty meat and leather makes the palate a bit more complex and the tannins are bit more grippy. 14.1% abv Sample $24. Very Good
2009 Canyon Wind Cellars, Cabernet Franc, Grand Valley AVA
My favorite of the four by just a touch over the Boulder Creek. The fruit in this is a bit darker than the Boulder Creek, but with similar leather and meaty characteristics and grippy tannin structure. There is a slight hint of tobacco and a nice mocha undercurrent. Despite the strong tannins, it still provides a smooth texture in the mouth with a moderately long finish. 14.7% abv Sample $29. Very Good
2009 Reeder Mesa Vineyards, Cabernet Franc, Grand Valley AVA
Definitely the biggest and burliest of the group. The higher alcohol also shows itself, but not too much to be overwhelming. The oak is quite apparent with vanilla and dill aromas up front. Beneath that, there is some nice dark red fruit and tobacco. The alcohol shows on the palate as well, but is met with good flavors of dark cherries and strawberries, dark chocolate, tobacco and an interesting bit of orange peel. If not for the oak and alcohol, I might have preferred this one. 15.5% abv Sample $25. Good/Very Good