100% Cabernet Franc
- A well-made Cabernet Franc is without a doubt one of my favorite wines; although very few wineries produce a pure varietal wine from this little-know Bordeaux grape, and it’s usually overshadowed in blends by Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Pure expressions of Cab Franc are fairly difficult to find, but I can’t encourage you enough to try and seek out a bottle for yourself and let me know your thoughts!
- The vineyard that provides the fruit for Alexander Valley Vineyards wines was purchased by Maggie and Harry Wetzel back in ‘62. The land was originally home to orchards and livestock, but in an effort to “keep up with the Joneses” (with “the Joneses” being Napa Valley) the family made the move to plant vines.
- Even though Alexander Valley Vineyards can be regarded as a BIG winery (averaging 100,000 cases a year), they’ve still managed to keep themselves family-owned and operated, and resisted the temptation to sell-out.
- Cabernet Franc is actually one of the parent grapes of Cabernet Sauvignon, along with Sauvignon Blanc. The grape is French in descent, but don’t hold that against it (NB: apologies, sometimes my “Englishness” slips into these wine reviews), and is believed to have after a hot night of passion between the two grapes in Southern France around the 1600’s. The French Riviera will do that to you!
- Alexander Valley takes its name from Cyrus Alexander, who rode to the valley on horseback from San Diego (NB: don’t ever complain about a long car ride again!) back in 1840. Cyrus was hired to seek out unclaimed land suitable for ranching, and found 48,000 acres (about 75 sq miles) in the as-yet unnamed valley.
- AVV now pay homage to the original pioneer of the valley, with the aptly named: Cyrus.
- The Alexander Valley Vineyards winery is home to 25,000 square feet of underground cave storage, which can hold up-to 7,000 barrels of wine.
- Other well-known wineries in Alexander Valley include: Clos du Bois, Geyser Peak, Murphy Goode, Jordan, Simi and Silver Oak.
- Cabernet Franc is still found in fairly sizeable plantings on the right-bank of the Bordeaux region of France, and in the U.S. is adapting well to cooler climates, with New York and Virginia making some noteworthy wines.
Once you’ve tasted quite a few Cabernet Franc’s, you should be able to spot their distinct aromas a mile away. The AVV shows a powerful mix of plum, aromatic violets,bell pepper and pencil lead that really fills your nostrils. Softer on the palate than you would expect, with a black and blue fruit mix, mint, mellow eucalyptus and wet tree bark. Impressive stuff.
This review is for the 2008 bottling, although 2009 is the current release.
Braised meats and stews, lamb, lasagna, pork and game – although I don’t need anything with it!
Average retail is around $26, and although it’s available from the AVV website, this is probably going to be one of the more well-stocked (i.e. restaurants and retailers) Cab Franc’s that you’ll find.