Not so long ago, well, what I like to say isn’t that long ago, but it turns out to be almost three years, I wrote a post called “Gone But Not Forgotten.” (Don’t click on this link until AFTER you read the post). It was one of my first posts where I try to predict (I think a better word is really – guess) what in the wine world would be the “next big wine.”
This isn’t anything new. Just pick up almost ANY magazine or read articles about wine and you will usually find some reference to either a region or grape that you’ve either never heard of or was shocked to hear that grapes are grown there. A little history here (actually at my age I have a LOT of history, but I’ll keep it short). Many years ago I lived in what was at the time a small farmland community in California. It was called Stockton. Right in the midst of what I always felt was the hottest and driest region in California known as the Central Valley. As a friend liked to always say, it’s where it’s 100 degrees in the shade, and there ain’t no shade! You get the picture, right?
About the only winery in the area was a small company called Gallo. That’s a joke, the small company part. They were in Modesto, just South of Stockton, and at the time making mostly jug wine and such. So a number of years back when I heard that wineries had started popping up in Lodi (just North of Stockton) I was amazed. What kind of grapes do you grow in a torrid place like that? Now, it’s a hotbed (forgive the pun) of win activity. So much for what I knew.
Continuing on with my original premise; so new grapes and regions are still being touted as the next new thing. Region wise, for me it started with Australia, then New Zealand, Argentina, and Chili joined the fray. More recently there’s been a big push for volcanic wines, such as those from Sicily (Mount Etna) and on the Italian mainland (Mount Vesuvius). Had a couple, even wrote a blog on them.
A little more recent came the wines from New York and especially the Finger Lakes region. Again, had a couple, wrote on one. Staying on the Eastern United States, you now are reading about Virginia. Not that I’ve done any reviews yet, my last post on Zonin1821 titled “Who Knew” (you know Zonin Prosecco) bought a winery in Virginia (Barboursville). There are probably many more examples of regions to explore. Let’s move on to grape varietals.
I think the biggest new-grape that never was that I was exposed to was Syrah. Loved it. Big rich spicy, what more could you ask for? The Australians were sending boatloads to the US. They just cleverly didn’t mention the grape, they put cute labels and started the “critter” wine phase. I can remember I could hardly give it away when I was a wine buyer, at least so long as it said Syrah on the label. I know I wasn’t alone in my love of, and belief that Syrah would “take over the world.” At least I wasn’t alone. By the way, I’m not including Bordeaux or Napa Cabs as these were never the “NEXT” big wine. They always were big!
What ended up to be what I consider the next big wine grape, or more appropriately, wine trend, was “BLENDS.” I can remember (no, no comment about my age and memory loss) when I was pouring at tastings, folks would talk about blends, and my usual response was to tell them that they didn’t realize that a large number of wines are actually blended. Wine laws just allow a winery to indicate a specific grape if it contains enough of that grape. I’ve been doing some additional research into all this and will spare you, for now, the intricate details. Be that as it may, people just kept asking for more and more blends.
Here’s the reason for my title of this post “That’s My Story, And I’m Sticking To It.” (Oh, and it’s around this point you can go back to the first paragraph and click on my “Gone But Not Forgotten” post.
My continued determination and belief that the next great grape varietal should be: TA DA:
You’re asking yourself, and wondering why I just couldn’t have led with that and spared you all the other rigmarole? What kind of a storyteller would I be if I didn’t suck you into the story and kept you wondering?
Now the “why” behind this post and once again talking about Cab Franc. I was at a recent wine tasting and one of the wines I was asked to pour was a nice little wine from Andrew Will Cellars. It just happened to be their 2016 Columbia Valley Cabernet Franc. Click here for the tech sheet.
From their modest beginning in 1989, and then their expansion in 1994, they now make around 4,500 cases per year, still making this what I would call a boutique winery. Named after the children “Andrew” and “Will” they get their fruit from Ciel du Cheval, Champoux, May’s Discovery, and Two Blondes vineyards in Washington State. The first two vineyards being well-known and well regarded by yours truly and many others. May’s Discovery is another modest 30 acre Horse Heaven Hills vineyard and Two Blondes named for Chris Camarda’s (Owner) late wife, Annie, who was a 6’2” blonde, and their partner in the vineyard, Bill Fleckenstein’s wife, Melody, who is also blonde, makes up another 30 acres.
When I opened the wine for the tasting I was struck with wonderful aromas. As is my usual tradition, I then poured myself a sample, strictly for quality control mind you. The real enjoyment came when I brought the remainder of the bottle home to have with my dinner that evening, pizza! That’s when I became immersed in the wine. Those flavors that so scream Cab Franc. Rich dark fruit with a hint of herbal qualities. Slight spicy notes and a nice long finish. Tasting much like its cousin, or maybe son would be a better definition, Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc was thought to have crossed with Sauvignon Blanc to create Cabernet Sauvignon. Similar but different, is a great way to describe the flavor to Cabernet Sauvignon. I just know, I LIKE IT!
While not a lot of cases of the wine were produced, 986 cases, I would think it can be found at your local wine shop. If not, just tell them it’s available through H2Vino if you’re in Illinois. Cost should be around $35 to $40, winery shows it at $35 and you can click here to purchase direct.
Oh, for those of you “Blended” wine aficionados, they make an excellent wine called Sorella. Highly rated, 94 Points from Wine Advocate for the 2013 vintage and 97 Points for 2014. That says it all!
So there it is. The same story I told almost three years ago. Cab Franc is the next “BIG” wine.
That’s My Story And I’m Sticking To It.