This post is a part of my 12 Long Island Wines for Christmas series that will run from now until Christmas 2007. See the entire series here.
The first red wine of my 2007 12 Long Island Wines for Christmas is Raphael's 2005 Cabernet Franc ($18). It won't come as a surprise to many of you that there's a cab franc on the list, of course. You know how much I dig the grape. In fact, it would probably be more surprising if this were the only one chosen. (Yes, that's a hint)
Cab franc is a grape that comes in many guises. Winemakers all seem to have their own style in these parts. Some eschew oak completely. Others age in neutral oak. Still others use significant amounts of new oak. This particular one is made somewhat in the style of those from the Loire valley, meaning it is made without oak.
The resulting wine very well may be my favorite local red under $20. The nose is loaded with red cherries and raspberries that are accented by floral spice and earthy notes. The palate is richly flavorful with cherry, spice and earth and pleasant structure – the result of acidity and skin tannin rather than overbearing oak. A pleasure to drink and highly versatile at the table.
This was actually the wine that inspired my decision to work with Raphael's winemaker on a 2006 cab franc of my very own. The 2006 isn't as intense as this 05, but the style is still there.