Saturday, April 01, 2006

Rappahannock Cellar's Cabernet Franc and Viognier Are Wonderful!

As an aspiring vineyard owner, a dreamer just like you, I often wonder what it would be like to own an operating vineyard. To me, it seems like nirvana, though to hear about it from grapegrowers, it's more like a battle royale against mother nature.

The family that owns Rappahannock had it great. They owned a winery in California. But that wasn't enough. They pulled up stakes and started a new winery in Virginia.

"We are often asked, 'How does growing grapes and making wine in Virginia compare with California?'" says winery owner John Delmare. "My answer is simple, 'It doesn’t. It’s a lot harder!' You have to be an astute farmer to deal with the difficult conditions here, as well as a more flexible and intuitive wine maker. Mother Nature doles out something different every year, but you can usually count on plenty of moisture during the growing season. This keeps the farmer in us on our toes while we battle a myriad of grapevine diseases. California tends to be extremely consistent from year to year in any given vineyard – not so in Virginia."

Well, thank goodness for small favors. Dominique and I decided to treat ourselves and go out to dinner for the first time in months. She told me to go down stairs and find a nice bottle of wine. I looked...we have lots of California cabs, Chilean reds, Bordeaux blends, Italian reds...but I wanted to try something different. I kept searching when finally I saw something we hadn't had in some time...a Rappahannock Cellars Cabernet Franc. We haven't been down to Virginia in a little bit, so my Virginia supplies are running a little short. This was a great opportunity.

We arrived at the restuarant, Lorenzo's in Freehold, New Jersey. We shared a rich lobster bisque, and she had a wonderful seafood pasta with an aromatic red sauce and I had a double veal chop with grilled polenta and potato-hash with Italian sausage. The cork popped, and away went the cares of the week.

The color was a deep purple. And the nose was all cherry and vanilla. Bright red fruits, cherries and raspberries came through, with a soft vanilla tinge, and a nice smooth finish. Rappahannock smooths out their Cabernet Franc with a little Merlot (about 15%), which makes it wonderful.

In the past, the Cabernet Franc has won a Gold Medal from the 2003 Atlanta International Wine Summit, Silver Medals from the 2004 Governors Cup, Florida International, 2003 Virginia State Fair and 2003 Vinifera Wine Growers Competition and Bronze medal from the Indy International Wine Competition!!

However, their biggest coup recently was to be named "Best Wine of the East" for their 2004 Viognier, at the 2006 Atlanta International Wine Suummit. Considering some of the very nice viogniers being made, that's quite a claim to fame.

These are wines to look for. Go to this address and see where you can find some Rappahannock Cellars, and leave your cares behind!