2019 Monticello Vineyards Corley Family Estate Cabernet Franc, Oak Knoll-Napa Valley Estate
Cabernet Franc can be a bit of a cypher. In France’s Loire Valley, in Chinon, for example, it can be very elemental- pure, floral and super pretty. The perfect food wine. Try Olga Raffault’s marvelous Les Picasses to see what I mean. Get it riper, like on the right bank of Bordeaux, or in the cooler areas of California like Santa Barbara, and its pyrazine-y green herb, green peppercorn and olive tapenade flavors come to the fore. An acquired taste for sure, but very much habit forming once you learn to dig it. Try the Lieu Dit Cabernet Franc from the Santa Ynez Valley to discover this middle style. Get Cab Franc riper still, like in the sunny Napa Valley, and the grape takes on a plusher, more cheerful personality where ebullient, densely packed berry fruit relegates the grape’s inherent green character into more a supporting, complexing role. We recently tasted Monticello’s 100% Cab Franc from the Oak Knoll District in the heart of the Valley and found it very much the perfect example of this riper, more expressive version of Cab Franc. Here’s a lovely, even ravishing, wine that wears its joyful personality on its sleeve- it gushes dark berries, spice and vanilla notes before finishing with just the perfect dash of toasty oak. It’s an elegant wine that pays homage to its Loire Valley roots thanks to its core of really solid acidity and lithe tannins. It’s a yummy, yummy Cab Franc and definitely worthy of your next perfectly grilled steak or herb pork chops. And be sure to keep a few bottles too. It’ll age well. It’s simply a great reminder of just how interesting and nuanced Cabernet Franc can be in the right hands. Fewer than 300 cases are produced. By the way, the $36 price on the Monticello is an incredible deal!