2009 Domaine de la Noblaie Chinon

2009 Domaine de la Noblaie ChinonPrice: $14.99 @ K&L Wines imported by David Headrick Selections

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “My new house red! This is produced all in stainless and solely from Cabernet Franc which is grown on a limestone slope. It has a rich ruby color and excellent structure. A nice fruity style of Chinon, this value-priced wine has a subtle peppery spice, ripe dark berries, soft chalky mineral character that really makes the fruit core come to life and express the fantastic character of Cabernet Franc. There are rich tannins on the finish and a juicy freshness throughout. I swear to you that you can actually taste the fresh glow of the summertime sun right in this bottle. Absolutely stellar while enjoying a burger right off the grill or even with a simple thin crust pizza. Just a pure, unadulterated wine meant to be enjoyed while moving along the game board of life.”

What I Think:

(13%) 100% Cabernet Franc – Bright red berries with juicy dark currant flavors. Nice acidity, nice crushed stone mineral with a smoky, spicy finish that lingers on warmly. Nice green, herbal streak throughout. Delicious! Chinon is definitely an under looked star in the (QPR) value world! Time to pop my 2004 to make sure it delivers. Once confirmed I’ll load a case of this one into the cellar…

Wine Geek Notes: Produced in all stainless. Grown on a limestone slope

Rating: Wow!

2009 Lazy Bones Cabernet Franc

I headed out to Trader Joe’s last week in search of a few wines. joshiemac told me this one was available and I had my eye out for some others. I thought I’d give the Robert Stemmler a try, received a tip on the Henry’s Drive Shiraz and and having heard good things was on the lookout for the Trader Joe’s Garnacha. The Henry’s Drive was not to be found. Oddly enough (see “Lazy Bones” picture) the Robert Stemmler label threw me off as I remembered it being more classic. After looking around it seems not to have changed though my thought process may have. If I am going to drop $20 on a Pinot there are lots of option out there including this Belle Glos which I have previously enjoyed and comes highly recommended by The Wellesley Wine Press. The Garnacha? Found it but decided to grab a bottle from K&L Wines that I had been wanting to try. Anyhow enough of the chitter chatter. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

2009 Lazy Bones Cabernet FrancPrice: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the bottle “I don’t care if you call me Lazy Bones, I love to lounge away the day alone. Why mix with others when being myself is so beautiful? When the day’s at my pace, I can relish small pleasures like ripe cherries, spiced blackberries, the aromas of sweet wood and fresh herbs. Afterall, there’s no shame in putting off today what can truly wait ‘till tomorrow.”

What I Think:

Rarely have I felt so poorly about my decision making as typing in the “What They Said” above already knowing how bad this one was. Sadly, given this was an offering from the Central Coast Wine Warehouse, who I (use to?) trust and as I was coming off the recent success of the Roustabout (which no one, myself included, can now seem to find) I had high hopes for this one.

This one doesn’t go wrong on the nose which shows underripe blueberry and stone notes. Nor on the initial entry which comes off as light and juicy on the palate. But from there it spirals… By the time this one makes it to the middle of the tongue it feels as if an oak barrel has transformed into a WWF wrestler and has you locked in the Iron Shiek’s sleeper hold. There is no acidity or tag team partner to save you and no matter how many times you tap the mat the wood flavors keep on choking you and choking you. I don’t pour much wine down the drain but this left me no choice. Easily the worst offering I’ve had from the Central Coast Wine Warehouse folks. Pick up anything else on the Trader Joe’s wine shelves priced at $7 and you will be better off…

Rating: Avoid It

Despite this I still do love me some Cabernet Franc. I wonder if Trader Joe’s still carries the Santa Ynez Cab Franc (I know they have the Gewurzt); if so perhaps I’ll grab a bottle soon. How about you? Anyone have a favorite Cab Franc under the $12 price range to share? If so would love to hear about it…

2009 Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve Cabernet Franc

2009 Trader Joe's Petit Reserve Cabernet FrancPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the bottle “The cool nights and warm days of Paso Robles bring out savory currant and dry cranberry nuances in our Petit Reserve Cabernet Franc.”

What I Think:

I’m not exactly sure why I had such high hopes for this one but something made me buy three bottles on sight. Granted I am a big fan of Cab Franc but that is some aggressive buying. Did it pay off? Let’s see…

Made by Familia Nueva Vineyards this one is light purple with translucent violet on the edges and has a pleasant nose of berries and spice. The palate starts nice with dried cranberry notes but quickly turns thin and becomes disjointed. On the finish heavy barrel driven tannins emerge with only a hint of the sour cherry fruit surviving. Even if it survived in full glory this one leaves a lot to be desired. I bought three of these hoping for good things. I am now plotting on how I can return the other two. I suggest you steer clear but if you happen to give this one a try I would love to hear your thoughts.

Rating: Skip It

2007 Lang & Reed North Coast Cabernet Franc

Price: $19.99 @ K&L Wines

What They Said:

2007 Lang & Reed North Coast Cabernet FrancPer K&L Wines “Like a domestic Chinon, the Lang & Reed Cabernet Franc showcases the varietal at its best. Sourced from the High Chaparral, Cross Springs and La Sierra vineyards in Lake County, with small amounts of fruit from the Cafferata and Stanton vineyards in the Napa Valley. Violet-hued with a dark nose full of black cherry fruit underscored by lavender, sage and fennel aromas. In the mouth the cherry fruit envelops your senses with soft tannins and savory herbs. Easy to drink, especially with a slight chill on it, this wine is food-friendly, fun and ready to drink. One star from the Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine: “This lively, fruit-focused wine recalls the comparatively lighter Cabernet Francs of France’s Loire Valley, and, while very much showing a touch of the brushy, dried-leaf qualities often found from the grape, it holds tannin in check and smacks of cherry-like fruit from beginning to end. A few years of age should find it in top form, but it will make a pleasurable partner to steaks and chops even now.” (05/09)”

What I Think:

Wow, this is the most compelling wine I’ve had in some time. Not so sure about the “domestic Chinon” but this is a winner straight out of the gate. In the glass it shows a nice shiny purple color. The nose is inviting. Some red fruit notes and loads of flowers and herbs, violet and mint come to mind. Bold flavors greet you in the mouth. Loads of red cherries assert themselves through the middle of the palate delivering a great mouth feel throughout. The finish unexpectedly transforms to a light finish of dried cherries, herbs and floral notes accompanied by pleasant, soft, unending tannins which deliver just enough acidity to keep the balance perfectly in check. Remarkable! And it is even better with food. A very flavorful and fruit forward wine that at the same time manages to be elegant and restrained. Checking the vineyards on this one I see it is 90% Lake County (with the rest from Napa Valley), yet another reason to explore this region more. Thanks to Vinography for bringing this one to my attention. I’ll definitely be grabbing some more of this one. And for those of you that read here often, for a wine that checks in at $20, you know that is very high praise. I’m already looking forward to the next bottle…

Rating: Wow!

2005 Frédéric Mabileau St.-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil Les Rouillères

Price: $13.99 @ K&L Wines imported by USA Wine Imports

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “90 points Wine Spectator: “Solid, with lots of gutsy briar, black olive, black currant and tobacco flavors that pump through the finish, which puts it all together. Drink now through 2008. 3,000 cases made.” (12/06)

What I Think:

My third Cabernet Franc of late, doing a pseudo-tour through different countries ala the Malbec adventure previously. California whipped Italy and was now ready to square off with France. France was coming in with some big credentials. 90 points from the Wine Spectator and a nice review in the San Francisco Chronicle.

On my end this wine was nice. The nose showed some fruit. On the palate there were metallic hints overlaid with tobacco-ish flavors on a well balanced frame. The end was pleasant but short. A fine effort but there wasn’t much to set it apart from the norm. The Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Franc was a clear winner at half the price.

Rating: Pricey

2005 Blason Cabernet Franc

Price: $8.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Premier Wine Company

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “Giovanni Blason and his consulting enologist Andrea Rossi have turned this 37-acre property into a juggernaut of affordable quality wines. Giovanni and his wife Valentina own this winery in Gradisca d’Inzonzo, 3.75 miles from the Slovenian border and about 20 miles north of Trieste. Generally I write about the easier-to-sell wines before the more difficult-to-figure-out. This time, I have to write about the 2005 Blason Cabernet Franc. This one is so good you won’t believe it! The flavor just bursts out of the glass, spice laden, black pepper, red fruits, vivacious, fresh and curvy all at the same time, and at an unbelievable price. Please try this wine if you haven’t or even if you have had Italian Cabernet Franc. (Greg St.Clair, K&L Italian buyer)”

What I Think:

I grabbed this one when my wife told me we were having hamburgers for dinner but by the time I got to the table the plans had changed. Not sure that it mattered…This wine was funky! On the nose the earthy, barnyard aromas seemed fairly typical but that is about where it ended. The wine seemed hot on the tongue and had a tart sour finish. Perhaps I need some food after all I thought. Not much difference. Still sour in the mouth, let me try and cleanse my palate to ensure the Amaicha Torrontes wasn’t throwing things askew.

Is it tart? Hot? Musty? Where is that wine aroma wheel. Unfortunately there is nothing pleasant resonating here. Chemical? Microbiological? Not even vegetal. It is bad but what is it? Nary a hint of fruit here. Headed towards the worst in a while. I’m even thinking I may dump the rest. I resisted and a few days later it started to show some fruit. Glad I didn’t dump it as it improved. That said it only made it to so/so by the end.

Rating: Skip It

2005 Santa Ynez Valley Winery Cabernet Franc

Santa Ynez Valley Winery Cabernet FrancPrice: $8.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per quaffability “Having spent a good chunk of the past week putting together an email blast for winery that ruffled a few feathers by selling their first release of Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Franc for $100, I was very interested when I spotted this Cab Franc at TJ’s , for $7.99 (I think). Folks don’t think of this Santa Barbara County appellation as a source for CF, as it’s known for Chard and Pinot Noir, of course, as well as Syrah. I had never heard of this winery before – the back label says it’s a new second label of Kalyra.

This wine is hot on the nose, but after the alcohol blows off there are some good leafy mineraly aromas overlaid by dusty cassis. The mouth offers nice silky texture, medium body, and good balance, with a short but tasty finish. Not much oak here. This is a lighter style of CF, more Chinon with some added fruit than Saint-Emilion. If I remember the price correctly, it’s a good value.”

What I Think:

Just opened this tonight and haven’t finished it yet but get this one if you see it. In fact add the label to your all stars category. Whenever you see something new from this winery get it. They produce a lot of bang for the buck…I’ll post a complete review later.

Done now and still smiling, this is good stuff! As mentioned on quaffability I was somewhat curious about Cab Franc from the Central Coast. Given that it is relative rare to find this bottled as a varietal offering at all in CA this was about the last place I would expect to see it. Checking the Kalyra site I find no mention of this wine but no worries it is a winner. On the nose I found some mineral notes overshadowed by mint or some similar leafy/aroma notes. In the mouth the wine is smooth. For Cab Franc the weight seems normal, the fruit is nice and the finish while not long is pleasant. Got another one of this sitting in the rack, looking forward to it…

Rating: Bulk Buy