"Other 47" Wine Challenge Week 4 - Virginia

2011 Rappahannock Cellars Cabernet Franc

Since the mid-nineteenth century, packing up the family and heading west to strike it rich, or at least to make a living, has been part of the American experience. An unsurprising corollary has been the routine exodus of Californians to states such as Texas, Oklahoma, Idaho, Oregon, and - especially relevant for this review - Virginia.

John & Marialisa Delmare began making wine in California's Santa Clara Valley in the 1990s. Looking for a culture change, the family, which now includes twelve children, bought the Glenway Farm in Virginia's Rappahannock County in 1998 and began their Virginia winemaking journey by planting Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Viognier, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Fifteen years later, Rappahannock Cellars is considered one of Virginia's leading wineries and has received numerous gold medals in major international wine competitions for its Cabernet Franc, Viognior, Chardonnay and Red Bordeaux Blends.

My tasting of the 2011 Rappahanock Cabernet Franc provided a much needed reminder that rushing to judgment often results in a mistake. I didn't decant the wine, and the wine initially seemed rather simple and one dimensional; I almost re-corked it and pulled out another wine for this review. Fortunately I didn't, because over the next hour the wine opened up and revealed itself as an excellent Virginia Cabernet Franc. Dusty leather and tobacco form the core, but there is also just enough fruit, primarily cherry, to appeal to most new-world palates. This medium-bodied wine will shine with food, but can also stand on its own either before or after a meal. With the damp and cool end to the 2011 growing season, the 2011 Rappahanock Cabernet Franc shows that the best Virginia wineries can produce very good wines even when the weather doesn't cooperate.

Rappahanock's 2011 Cabernet Franc is comprised of 75% Cabernet Franc and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon - to be labeled as a single grape variety, a wine must contain at least 75% of that variety - and the alcohol content is 13.2%.

The wine is available on Rappahanock's website for $26.50, and Rappahanock can ship to CA, CO, DC, FL, GA, IL, LA, ME, MD, MN, NH, NY, NC, TX, VA, and WA.

Published: April 16, 2013

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