By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor
Many red blends from the Finger Lakes are heavy on the cabernet franc -- the red grape that many (though clearly not all) believe grows best consistently in the region.
Ian Barry, winemaker at Swedish Hill Winery, is one winemaker who believes strongly in Finger Lakes cabernet sauvignon, so it probably isn't a surprise that his Swedish Hill Winery 2007 Optimus ($22) 42% cabernet sauvignon, 33% merlot and 25% cabernet franc -- all grown in the Finger Lakes.
I'm not ready to hop on his cabernet sauvignon bandwagon, but this Bordeaux-style blend does help make a case for the grape -- at least as part of a blend.
Aged in a combination of American, French and Hungarian oak (20% new), it shows off the ripeness of the vintage without hiding it beneath aggressive oak.
On the nose, there are black plums and blueberries with accents of tobacco, dark chocolate and baking spice.
Ripe, well-integrated tannins frame similar flavors -- plums, blueberries, tobacco and chocolate -- with the addition of spices reminiscent of cola and just a little vanilla -- while subtle acidity enlivens the medium-bodied palate.
I'm not sure how well it will age -- might not be enough structure -- but it's very approachable and drinking well right now. And it's well priced.
It hasn't been released in the tasting room yet, but should be soon.
Producer: Swedish Hill Winery
AVA: Finger Lakes
TA: 6.0 g/L