Every wine has a story behind it. All too often, those narratives are joyless and dispiriting ones filled with nefarious characters, corner-cutting, over-manipulation and mass-production.
Then there are the tales of incredibly meticulous artisans, their dedication and their dillgence. These are the stories than inspire us and drive us to act -- or buy in the case of wine.
I've told the story of Roanoke Vineyards Gabby's Cabernet Franc before. It's story of a man, Gabby Pisacano, tending the 12 eastern-most rows of cabernet franc in his son's vineyard.
Sometimes the best wine stories are born at a PR agency's conference room table. Not here, I assure you. Gabby is out in those rows nearly every time I drive by the vineyard on my way to and from wine country. To see it to believe.
In 2006 -- anything but a banner year for Long Island cabernet franc -- Gabby's long hourss in the vineyard coupled winemaker Roman Roth's deft hand in the cellar resulted in one of the best reds from the vintage.
On Sunday, September 26, Roanoke Vineyards will release the Roanoke Vineyards 2007 Gabby's Cabernet Franc ($38) to celebrate Gabby's birthday. Most of the wine has already been sold as futures, but if you stop into the winery at any point this weekend -- Friday, Saturday or Sunday -- it should be available.
Ripe and outgoing, the nose displays a combination of red and black fruits with complex, intricate layers of earthy leaf tobacco, bay leaf, mint, caper berry and woodsy spice. Over the course of three days, the fruit first puffed out its chest a bit, and then faded into the background just a bit letting the real cabernet franc-ness of this wine take center stage -- all spice and herbs and earth.
On the medium-to-full bodied palate, the fruit is a bit more red than black with bing cherries and sweet red raspberries leading the way. Behind that ripe core of fruit are notes of earthy dried autumn leaves, roasted hazelnuts, bay leaves, salt-cured olives and dark roast coffee. Ripe, fine-grained tannins bring grip and structure, pointing to longevity in the cellar. The finish combines earthy and spicy notes with the most subtle hint of milk chocolate as it lingers.
Again, over the course of three days of tasting, these various components moves in and out of the spotlight, with licorice and fennel-type flavors peeking through on day three.
There isn't much of this available, but it's worth buying and laying down for a few years. Your patience will be rewarded.
Producer: Roanoke Vineyards
AVA: North Fork of Long Island