Today marks one more stop in the east, during the 12 Days of Cabernet Franc. Heron Hill Winery is a Finger Lakes producer. While this region is often noted for its Rieslings, Cabernet Franc is one of the red varietals, which shine in this cooler climate region. Heron Hill Winery released their first vintage in 1977, and has grown into being a 20,000 case producer. They bottle approximately 20 different releases each year. Since their inception more than 30 years ago they've practiced sustainable methods in all aspects of the winery. I'll look at two of their Cabernet Francs today. First is the 2005 Heron Hill Finger Lakes Cabernet Franc. This wine was aged in oak for 12 months. Alcohol is a modest 12.5%. The suggested retail price for this wine is $14.99.
Strawberry, leather, and cedar notes are prominent in the nose of this wine. This Franc is medium bodied, with copious cranberry, and raspberry notes throughout the palate. Cigar box, earth, chicory, and sour berry notes merge on what is a medium length finish. This wine has approachable tannins and good acidity. I drank this along with a pizza topped with Fontina, and Gruyere cheese, as well as Shitake mushrooms. I found it to be a nice complement.
For $14.99 this wine isn't going to break the bank. At that price point, it provides good Cabernet Franc character and enjoyable drinkability. This is a Franc doesn't need to be paired with big foods, and unlike most, will match some lighter items.
The second Franc today is the Heron Hill Winery 2005 Ingle Vineyard Cabernet Franc. This wine is approximately 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, through a field blend. This wine also boasts modest 12.5% alcohol. The suggested retail price for this wine is $24.99.
Immediately upon opening I was taken by the darker, deeper color of this single vineyard Franc in comparison to the other one. It was a bit tight at first and about an hour in the decanter is recommended. Once it opened up, plums, black raspberry and cloves filled the nose. Throughout a rich, robust and mouth filling palate berry characteristics as well as continued spice notes, star. The finish is filled with emerging leather, earth and espresso notes, along with a touch of plum pudding spice. This wine has a firm tannic structure and good acidity. This Franc will pair will with hearty, full flavored foods.
While this wine is drinking well now, I expect it to improve over the next year or so and continue to drink nicely for 3-4 after that.
I was impressed with the distinctions between these Cabernet Francs from Heron Hill Winery. They each have unique characteristics that separate them. Yet both share a connective tissue, which speaks to their Finger Lakes origin as well as the consistency of Heron Hill's winemaking style. I've yet to get up to the Finger Lakes region, but these wines have certainly nudged me in that direction.
Up Next: 2 More Days of Cabernet Franc!