Last night the Dorks of York got together to taste Cab Franc. In this tasting group, we put all the brown bagged bottles on the table. The order's decided spontaneously by anyone who thinks their wine would be a good one to follow whatever was just poured.
First one out is Gabe's because he's "disappointed" in it. He just wants to get it over with. Seems a warm vintage style: very ripe nose, sweet oaky fruit on the midpalate with a bitter finish. It's painfully clear why he's disappointed, especially when he reveals that the retail on this is around $48--you can't taste the money. With the reputation this winery has, we deserved better. 2009 Pyramid Valley Cab Franc, New Zealand. Awful.
I decide this might be a good place for one of my three wines, the 2003 Burrowing Owl Cab Franc from British Columbia, because I'm not sure I won't be disappointed too. But I'm not: after the vitamin B nose settles down, it's smokey with gamey, roasted flavors and the requisite green notes. It's mouthfilling with good tannins and acidity, and even those not keen on the luxury models of cab franc admit to enjoying it. Attractive for it's age and style.
Now Melissa timidly enters the fray. We reel initially from the ferocious brett blast, then quickly detect the rampant acidity which causes Gabe and I to cry out in unison, "Italy!" Apparently the guy who sold her the bottle said, "They'll never guess it" so she's crushed. Light cherry fruit, more grassy than herbal, it's pleasant enough but definitely beyond it's best days. It's a 2003 Castello Carboncine Riserva from the Veneto. Struggling.
John knows he's got that beat so proudly puts out a bottle. The nose is beautiful: earthy, mineral, dusty, cherry pie, spice, definitely Loire. Satisfying and balanced on the palate. I mention that I'm not sensitized enough to Loires to guess regions, and Gabe says neither is he "except I know this isn't Bourgeil." So John immediately reveals, "It's Bourgeil." I guess Chanteleuserie, which is right, but am thinking it's got a few more years on it than it turns out to have. 2008 Domaine de la Chanteleuserie. Excellent.
Time for my little Chinon. A wow of a nose. Sweet and spicy with red fruit including tomatoes fresh off the vine with that neat green taste from the leaves, cinnamon and a little sassafras. Everybody loves it. 2002 Sourdais 'Les Clos'. Wine of the Night.
Oh jeez, what's this? Sugar, jammy overripe raspberries and Aunt Jemima syrup. No Cab Franc character to speak of, no acid, no anything-good. Label admits to 14.1% alcohol but we think it's worse. 2007 Tamarack Cellars Cab Franc from Washington. Absolute dreck.
Since anything will show well after that, Allen seizes the opportunity to trot out his bottle which he bought on the way over, not owning any Cab Franc. Very new world with a touch of vanilla, but otherwise correct CF character. Big, sturdy and seriously good quality. Very enjoyable. It's the 2007 Owen Roe 'Rosa Mystica'. Best new world wine of the night.
Just when we think we've run out of wines, Tim appears out of nowhere. He's been at an industry tasting put on by an outfit called Dickinson and is exhausted from all the Dick jokes. He's brought two bottles. The first is a very cheerful blend of Pineau d'Anuis, Pinot Noir and Cab Franc, 2009 Montagne Blanche 'Coteaux du Vendemois'. It's a happy, joyful little wine full of exuberantly forward red fruits and some vitamin B-6 minerality. We all like.
We're not so enamored with his second wine, the 2009 Arbor Crest Connor Lee Vineyard Cab Franc from Spokane, Washington. There's an annoying lactic note on the entry with malted cherry fruit and creosote flavors. Conclusion: it's just okay. And I'm being kind here.
And now for the grand finale, buoyed by the recent tasting notes on 1995 cab francs at Bob Semon's house, I whip out the wine I'm sure is going to leave the Sourdais in the shade. And I get: light brett, fungus and then...oh shit, TCA? No one else thinks so. But they don't say anything good, except Allen, who inexplicably loves it. So we question him about his prescription drug use, which he denies. Long as we were getting personal, for good measure we throw in the Sandusky questions too ("Are you a pedophile?", etc), which he also denies. By the time the interrogation's over, Gabe agrees: it's corked. Damn damn damn! It was my one and only bottle of: 1995 Olga Ruffault 'Les Picasses'.
Fun night, as always.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov