Saturday, November 10, 2007


This is the story of two cabernet francs. Cabernet Franc is becoming more and more popular in the United States a an alternative deep red varietal. One of my favorites was the Neibaum-Coppola Cabernet Franc which I have long favored. But many east coat wineries have taken the plunge into the cab franc pool - and with great success.
The two which gained the most notable recognition early on were Schnider of Long Iland and Millbrook of the Hudson River Valley. Other eat coat success’s were tasted from Raphael in Long Island, and several others.
Two I recently tasted were quite exceptional. The first was Castello di Borghese’s 2003 Cabernet Franc. Castello di Borghese, in Long Island, is a venerable, even historic house. It is what remains of Louise and Alex Hargraves winery and vineyards, which were the first on Long Island.
The Borghese cabernet franc were a brilliant wine. A clear, bright ruby against a strong light, the wine burst forward with cherries, a touch of plum, and some vanilla. It was fruity up front, but finished dry and fabulous. It was an elegant wine, as one expects from a venerable Long Island house.

The other wine was a pleasant surprise,, although someone as experienced as Howard Goldberg, my venerable friend from the New York Times, might not be so shocked. Tomasello is a larger winery, and is mostly known by the public for the large amount of jug wines they sell, as well as large, inexpensive wines many people use for entertaining large crowds. However, Howard has always been good about citing Tomasello’s other side, a small line of high end wines, meant for a more discerning pallet.
This of course is the well documented Atlantic County series of wines. Packaged in dark bottles, with black labels, highlighted by a painting of a Jersey shore scene, Thi series is an accomplishment. And out of this series I plucked, from my local Wegman’s in Freehold, NJ, a cabernet franc. It's made from 100% Atlantic County New Jersey Cabernet Franc grapes. There is some rose petal in the nose. This Cab Franc spend six months in second year air-dried American oak casks which affords it a light oaky character as well as the roundness accomplished by barrel aging.
It was different in many ways, which is what makes the world go round, and why people bet on horses. It couldn’t have been more different yet just as lovely.
The wine was much darker and more opaque than then the Borghese. Plums and dark cherries were set off by an intense vanilla taste. The wine was rich and dry, and lovely.
Try either of these wines, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.