Ironstone Vineyards - 2 Cabernet Francs

Today, the 12 Days of Cabernet Franc moves to the Sierra Foothills and Ironstone Vineyards. 2009 marks 20 years that Ironstone started work on their Winery Facility. In that time they've become a pretty large producer, whose wines are readily available on US Wine store shelves. They make a couple of Cabernet Francs and I'll look at each of them. First up is the Ironstone 2006 Cabernet Franc. This selection has 4% Cabernet Sauvignon blended in. Fruit for this wine was sourced in Lodi. This bottling spent 12 months in a combination of French and American oak. 10,000 cases of this Franc were produced and the suggested retail price is isfranc$11.

Notes of wild red strawberry dipped in fresh cream fill the nose of this wine. Throughout the palate, this 2006 Franc is medium bodied, with a host of red, and black cherry notes, as well as berry pie crust spices.  The finish brings out some subtle cola notes, along with leather and tobacco. This wine is soft and approachable, making it a good fit with a wide array of foods. I found myself craving a Cuban Panini.

What impressed me about this Cabernet Franc, was the amount of varietal character, at a $12 suggested retail price. Combine the price, with it's wide availability, and this is a good wine to use as an introduction to Francs in general. This wine is made to enjoy in its youth, when the nose and palate are bright, lively, and exuberant.

The second wine today is the 2006 Ironstone Reserve. This offering has 12% Cabernet Sauvignon blended in. Fruit was sourced at Ironstone's Estate Vineyards in the Sierra Foothills. This selection was aged for 24 months in French and American oak. 3,500 6-pack cases, of the reserve, were produced, and the suggested retail price is $28.

The Reserve isn't nearly as immediately accessible as the other Franc. If you're going to drink it now, decanting for a minimum of 90 minutes is my recommendation. That time allows it to really open up and come into its own. The nose has prominent dark berry, bramble and vanilla notes. Throughout the palate, intense, dark, fleshy fruit flavors dominate. They're supported by leather and cedar notes. The medium length finish has cranberry, sour cherry and white pepper. This offering has a firm tannic structure and good acidity. This reserve Cabernet Franc will be best suited to mach bigger, bolder, more flavorful foods.

This offering from Ironstone should improve over the next 2-3 years, and drink well for several after that.

Both Cabernet Francs from Ironstone Vineyards are well made and distinct. The one sourced in Lodi offers easy drink-ability, good varietal character, and easy affordability. The Reserve is more complex, layered and extroverted. It also offers value in its price, and quality range.

Up Next: 10 More Days of Cabernet Franc !

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