Despite the obvious success of Merlot on the North Fork, there are many people – myself included – who get just as excited about Cabernet Franc. This grape, a more subdued, more feminine genetic parent of Cabernet Sauvignon thrives in our climate.
Fill a blind-tasting table with Long Island Cabernet Franc, however, and you'll taste almost as many styles as there are wineries – from un-oaked, Chinon-style reds best suited to casual foods and young drinking all the way up to rich, strenuously oaked wines that can cellar well and seem almost Sauvignon-like in their flavor profile. Vintage variation and ripeness plays a big part, but so does winemaker style and whim. In cooler or wetter years, when the grapes don't ripen to their potential or flavors get diluted by excess water, these barrel-aged wines can be somewhat flat and lifeless.
Not so with this wine. 2005 was a remarkable year on the North Fork, the growing season was warm and extremely dry – at least until a harvest-time deluge ravaged some vineyards. But, for those wineries that literally weathered the storm, strong, drying winds soon followed and 2005 is already shaping up to be a benchmark year for Long Island red wines, with this wine a fine first release.
Cherry and other red berries mingle on the nose with a wisp of smoke, subtle green herbs and earthy dried leaf aromas. I love the flavorful, rich mid-palate on this wine, with flavors in line with the nose. Well balanced with well-integrated tannins, it's a wine of deliciously crafted structure. Bold yet elegant, this is a fine example of how well this Bordeaux-like style of Cabernet Franc can be done here.
(This review originally appeared on AppellationAmerica.com)