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July 30, 2009


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Thanks for the report on what I'm sure was a killer tasting.

I'm curious about who the 42 people were, can you list them in a comment to the post? What about all of the wines?

Also, it seems a little weird to me to have Anthony Road's cab franc-lemberger blend in the group. Especially if it's a big chunk of Lemberger, which will change the character completely.

Curious to hear what participants thought of the tasting.

Lenn -

I'm running out the door and won't be online until later, but I'll list all of the wines tasted and all of the participants. I hope they'll bring some lively discussion here.

It was my decision to include the AR Lemberger/Cab Franc because we're now seeing more producers use that blend. I was curious to see if it stood out dramatically in a blind setting, and it didn't, really. I loved it blind, gave it a high score. It was received quite well. But no one remarked that it was "probably not CF" or anything like that.

Who picked the FL Cabernet Franc wines for this tasting? Why these FL wineries? Thank You. John Iszard


The creator of this event, Neil Miller of the blog Stressing the Vine, came to me with a list. He asked me for my thoughts, and what began as a list of just about all Cab Franc makers had to be pared down to fit this tasting. Input came from me, Neil, and a few others, but ultimately the final list did not deviate much from Neil's original intentions.

The goal was not to have a regional survey of essentially all producers -- that's just not possible, sadly.

Hi Evan,

Thank you for that nice report of what seems a wonderful tasting.

Would it be possible to release (privately and/or anonymized if deemed necessary) the full rankings made by the participants? That seems like quite a nice playground for any statistician and there might be some trends that might be extracted when drilling down on the data... We might even try to prove mathematically your instincts that you have had while looking at the results.


While we do not want to go overboard with scores in this kind of event, I'd be happy to share them with you in a private email if you like. For what it's worth, I asked each participate to indicate on their score sheets whether they were a W (for a wine industry professional), an R (for retailer), or an M (for media, meaning newspaper writer or blogger). When the event concluded I tallied not the only the overall scores, but I broke down the scores to see how each group ranked the wines. That's how we discovered some disparities, which I found interesting.

If you'd like the complete list of scores, feel free to email me at epdaws@yahoo.com and I'll be happy to send them along. Thanks!

Great recap!

Based on tasting NY, PA, and VA Cab Franc, I'd say that there is a *definite* regional difference that comes out in cooler climate CFs. After tasting CFs in CA last week, I'm beginning to wonder if they're trying to make it taste like Cab Sauv out there...


We considered adding a CA CF to the tasting, but we're seriously talking apples and oranges there. Might have been interesting to note the contrast. Some CA producers are asking $60 or more for their CF, but much of what I've read indicates it's a heavy, sweet, oaked style. Would you have been able to pick it out as CF in a blind tasting?

Hey Evan, We enjoyed the tasting, it re-affirmed our thoughts on how wines are judged.
Just have to call you on your comment and I quote
"Local winemakers do not seem to enjoy wines from
other regions" Perhaps you would like to see our recycling box, it's up for viewing any Friday. In it you would find a wide variety of wines from all over the world. I think you would find this true of most of the winemakers in the Finger Lakes. If your basing your comment on the #5 in the first flight, I'll be the first to say I love a little Brett in my wine, but that one was over the top.


Thanks for the thoughts. I am not at all surprised to hear that you -- or many others -- enjoy wine from all over the world. That's why I acknowledged my remark was probably a bit unfair. But it's not simply based on one bretty wine! There is a community of wine professionals in the Finger Lakes that seeks out wine from across the globe, and I believe this makes them better winemakers and better tasters.

However, I've met more than a few who associate a foreign style with inferiority. I worry about that. So my remark is made in a general sense that I hope there isn't a persistent regional palate that moves some people to think that outside wines are inherently inferior.

And while I enjoyed that Chinon -- and especially the other Joguet Chinon that was poured at lunch! -- I don't deny it had brett. I guess that I've seen much worse and maybe I'm more willing to give it a pass as such!

I am very surprised that the Shinn Estate Vineyards 2007 fared so poorly at this tasting. At Taste Camp, nearly everyone, including myself, raved about this wine.

Did anyone make any specific comments about why they did not like the Shinn that much?


First, to clarify, it finished 9th out of 16 wines, but in terms of points, it was only a few slots from the top quarter. That's part of why I try not to go overboard on scores and numbers.

It was interesting; the people who liked the Shinn LOVED it. I had a handful of people approach me after the tasting to ask more about it. No surprise there. But it brought a different edge to the tasting, and again, I'm not sure some people welcome foreign wine profiles. Not that Shinn is from another planet; it certainly has some similarities with FLX, but it's a bigger, richer style. Don't know what else to say, but I'll reiterate that I find the hype absolutely justified on this one.


A lot can happen between the barrel and the bottle. Many winemakers, etc., swear by "bottle shock". Makes sense to me that an extra dose of sulfites at bottling can turn the nose upside down, at least for a little while afterwards when the redox equilibrium comes back to normal. According to Evan, this stuff was bottled very recently.

For the record, I liked it at TasteCamp but wasn't as gonzo for it as some of the others.

And, just to take the cynical view...
Some of the raving could be contagious, and some could be due to the entire experience at Shinn: touring the vineyard, hearing about biodynamics (and experiencing preparation 500 up close and personal), talking to the winemakers, etc. Not to mention a fantastic lunch!

Thanks Evan for the additional details. Thanks too to you Tom for your comments.

For me, I was initially more prepared not to like the Shinn Cab Franc as I usually am not a fan of that grape. Though I have been finding more and more that I do enjoy lately. I am thus unsure whether I would like the FL style of Cab Francs. It might possess more of that green/vegetal taste I dislike.

Richard - Vegetal green tends to be more dilute, under-ripe or over-cropped. That's not the sole province of FL cab franc; it shows up wherever poor CF is made. Grilled herbs are a lovely component and far different, and when FL is right, you'll get some of that mixed in with cracked black pepper and lush fruits.

Now, I've heard the folks from Shinn say that they seek to ripen and avoid just about any "green" flavors, as it can be marketing death, but I don't wish to speak for them.


I just wanted to congratulate you and the other organizers of the Cab. Franc tasting. I found this to be a particularly good format for tasting wines : ample time, nice glasses, clean and odor-free space. I believe this should be a format to pursue in the future.
As far as the wines are concerned, I took home both positive and negative impressions. Tasting through a line-up of Cab Franc without talking about bell pepper characteristics is encouraging. On a less positive note, too many of these wines showed clear signs of over-cropping resulting in a dilution of flavor intensity, lack of texture and overall neutral character. We should do better than this in a vintage such as 2007. I simply cannot agree with winemakers stating that 2007 was not a favorable vintage for cab franc. Overall, this was a very encouraging tasting and we should pursue this format with other grape varieties.


What to say? As Morten has observed the format of the tasting was exceptional. Time and opportunity. And with compelling examples from other regions. Focus and patience in tasting is everything.

Today I attended a 'Red Pig' (don't ask) tasting and summer event. Many older and revered wines were offer up. '59 German Rieslings, '66 Bordeaux and so forth. What struck me about many of the wines was their freshness - the liveliness of the acidity in the wines. Much like red wines from the Finger Lakes. Such as Cabernet Franc. The tasting, for me, showed the freshness of the vintage, the mostly red fruit, and the delicate nature of Cabernet Franc. Very much like Pinot Noir, an aware and subtle hand is of great advantage in winegrowing Cab Franc. I for one look forward to more tastings such as this one.



Thanks for the feedback. Your remarks remind me of a question that we're hearing often in California: Is a big, rich, high-alcohol wine capable of aging? Certainly there are plenty of CA wines that are aging nicely, but I wonder if regions like the Finger Lakes are actually better equipped for making long-lived wines. Of course, that will only come about with a continued improvement and care in the vineyard.

The word "fresh" has a positive connotation for me, but I hope others don't take it as a pejorative. Raciness is not reserved simply for white wines. It would be to the region's advantage to make sure consumers understand the benefits of racy, fresh, complex red wines.

Aaww Kate. You're rather strict on taste.

Hmm really lots of wine out there..
"656 Glasses of Wine"
Lots of wine glass and wine bottle..

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