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Thursday, July 30, 2009

2007 Circa Estate Winery Cabernet Franc Leelanau Peninsula

On our visit to Traverse City, Chris from Two Lads Winery told me about this guy, Terry Stingley, who is planning on a "taste off" of Cab Francs. He feels that Cab Franc may be Michigan's "identity" grape. That is, when you think Argentina - what grape do you think? Probably Malbec. Germany? Riesling. Read up here if you want.

No one is really "known" for their Cab Franc, so this is an interesting idea. (Michigan's most popular grape seems to be Rielsing, but many - hell, most - are lackluster compared to their Alsatian and German bretheren.) I have made some subtle jabs at Cab Franc as a single varietal wine, but on our most recent trip we sampled a few that were impressive without qualification - including a forthcoming that's probably going to blow minds.

So here's a Cab Franc from Circa Winery - a wine that may be in the "Michigan Cab Franc Challenge" - that goes for about thirty big ones.

First - check out this cork - I'm glad we opened this sooner rather than later. It's a good idea to check bottles you're sitting on a few times a year anyway, but I definitely would keep an eye on this. My impression is this wine is well crafted and would benefit from aging.
Second - this is perhaps obvious by the last comment, but this wine needs a few hours to open.

The nose has cherry liqueur with cedar and tobacco - burning tobacco, sorta like a pipe - notes all with some stewed green peppers (not in a bad way).

Earth, oak, cherry, spices - clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, a bit of dried mint - all with firm tannins and blueberry coming through on the back palate (and more so up front as the bottle opens), plus just the slightest hint of "natural" cola (the Whole Foods stuff, not Coke). Excellent balance all around.

No vegetal qualities at all - a lot of people avoid Cab Franc because they're afraid of that funky cabbage or strong bell pepper quality quality, but very few, if any of the Michigan wines (at least at the higher pricepoint) show any of those notes. There may be some bell pepper (as here) but they are typically subtle and well integrated.

The exceptionally long finish brings more of that quirky natural cola quality, as well as some nice puckering tannins, good lingering acidic punch, and some ever so slightly unripe raspberry. Way back on the end, as it fades, a distinct cigar quality comes through.

Thirty bucks is nothing to sneeze at, but there's nothing to argue with here. Well crafted, interesting, and a fantastic wine all around - among the best Cab Francs we've had.

Wine: 8.5
Value: Go for it

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