2018 Experts’ Tasting Profiles Niagara Peninsula’s Stunning Range of Cab Franc

ex tasting

For too long, Cabernet Franc has been the “other” Cabernet. Too green, not enough power, too little backbone, they’d say. Yes, it’s the vineyard workhorse, yes, it offers the best disease resistance, yes, it’s cold hardy, earlier ripening and the trusted player in the blend line-up, but rarely…. rarely, was that enough to make Cab Franc – the headliner. A life spent in the shadows of Cabernet Sauvignon; a 10 percenter …. it’s enough to give a grape a complex. (Heavy sigh.)

Well, dear reader, put your tissues away because Cab Franc’s star is rising. No longer the understudy to its broad-shouldered, headline-stealing, genetic half- sibling Cabernet Sauvignon, increased plantings, sku’s and demand tells us Cab Franc’s time has arrived.

Big is bust. Elegance is in. Green is growing. Oh happy day.

Cab Franc loves Ontario and I love Ontario Cab Franc

Save for Chinon and Bourgeil in the Loire Valley, and Cheval Blanc and Chateaux Figeac in Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc is largely treated – world-over – as a blending grape to add heady, herbal aromatics to a Bordeaux, Merlot or Meritage blend.

While it’s often the Cab Sauv understudy in Canada’s Niagara Peninsula too, more often than not Cab Franc is the star of the show.

Latitude Map - p2 NEW 2015
On the cutting Edge of Cool. Credit: Wine Country Ontario 

Here in cool country, the Cab Franc grape is allowed to exhibit its single varietal best. Wine writer Jancis Robinson, suggests the Cabernet Franc truly comes into its own in true cool climate locations like Canada, where it becomes “the more charming” and aromatic of the Cabernet siblings. Indeed, with its beguiling vineyard perfume, age-ability and complexity, Ontario Cab Franc steals the limelight, performing beautifully as a ‘one person…..err, grape show’ in still wines and increasingly, in Ontario ice wines too (Vidal grape is #1, Cab Franc #2, Riesling #3).

Production and sales numbers confirm Cab Franc’s ascendancy. According to VQA Ontario, in 2017 Cab Franc was the #1 red grape variety produced in Ontario representing 10.8% of total VQA wines volume production (not including blended CF), followed by Merlot (7.0%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (6.8%). In their 2018 Annual Report, Grape Growers of Ontario reported Cab Franc as the 4th largest varietal in the province with 5,998 tonnes, trailing white varietals Vidal (22,686), Riesling (11,642) and Chardonnay (11,406). Importantly, Cab Franc tonnage has grown each year since 2014, with 2017 recording the largest tonnage in Ontario’s history.

According to Melissa Wrigley of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), the leading retailer in the province (read: monopoly), retail offerings for domestic and international Cab Franc have also expanded, growing from 45 to 159 skus. So, yes Virginia, it’s fair to say here in Ontario, Cab Franc is on a tear, with savvy wine consumers increasingly reaching for fresh, approachable and food-friendly Cab Franc, that’s affordable, easy to drink, and deliciously unique in its varietal character.

So, what is the profile of a perfect Ontario Cab Franc, you ask?

Experts Tasting BEV
Experts’ Tasting – Cab Franc. Photo Credit: CCOVI

To answer that, I attended Brock University’s Experts’ Tasting event: a spirited, annual gathering of educators, wine writers, and wine industry professionals.

The event was held at the university’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), an internationally recognized research centre on cool climate viticulture, oenology and the business of wine. Every year, CCOVI hosts the Experts’ Tasting to celebrate Ontario’s VQA appellation wine and to honour individuals who help grow and promote Ontario’s grape and wine industry.

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Dr. Karl J. Kaiser – Recipient of Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo Credit: Niagara This Week

One of those people honoured this year, was Ontario wine industry pioneer and winemaker Dr. Karl J. Kaiser who was given the Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously. Kaiser and longtime partner Donald Ziraldo launched Inniskillin Winery in 1975, recognizing the potential for high quality Pinot Noir and seeding the icewine industry in Canada.

“There would be few in this room who would not recognize the pivotal contributions that Karl made to our VQA wine industry,” said CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis. “From putting Canada on the map as a wine-producing nation to changing the landscape of agriculture in Niagara, he showed us what could be crafted with the grapes that we grow here. He helped drive this industry forward to be what it is today.”

Under the microscope: Cab Franc & Niagara Peninsula’s Regional and Sub Appellations

Being a Cab Franc fan, I was thrilled to score (!!) an invitation to this year’s CCOVI event. What’s so cool is it was the 29th year for the VQA tasting event, which is testament to the growth and maturity of Ontario’s wine industry. This year’s focus was specifically on Niagara Peninsula Cab Franc and the growing conditions and winemaking decisions that have contributed to the varietal’s success in this, the largest appellation in Ontario and Canada.

Cab Francs that made it into this esteemed tasting had to first past muster with the judging panel; a collection of wine writers, sommeliers, product consultants and winemakers. Wines submitted had to be VQA approved and offer a classic interpretation of Cab Franc. Rob Powers, an instructor at CCOVI and veteran of 20 Ontario Cab Franc vintages at Creekside Winery, described Ontario’s Cab Franc typicity as bright red fruit aromatics, high acidity and slightly herbal perfumed aromatics – all attributes shaped by Niagara’s mosaic of terroirs and our continental (41° and 44° North), cool climate growing conditions.

balls falls Weather Network
Balls Falls, Niagara Peninsula: Limestone ‘lift”. Photo Credit: The Weather Network

Just like Champagne loves chalk and Merlot, clay, Cab Franc loves limestone. Niagara, it so happens, is awash in limestone bedrock and limestone soils, thanks to 500 million years of glacial, geological history. From a wine perspective, this high concentration of limestone and the complex matrix of soils, promotes acidity, lift and a fresh, ‘new world’ take on the delicious capsicum or herbal characteristics that define the grape.

Can ET’s discern the Niagara Peninsula’s Regional & Sub Appellations?

On the agenda were five flights of Cab Franc, showcasing a total of 33 Niagara VQA wines.

Niagara winemakers and a local sommelier led us through each flight, helping deconstruct each flight theme. Expert Tasters tasted blind (natch), with the fifth round a clever, “Wine Options” Q&A table exercise that tested our local wine knowledge and proved an exercise in consensus building. With a few clues thrown our way, could we check our egos (ahem), and agree on a region, vintage and maybe even producer?

Ontario's Appellations White Book Map - p16
Ontario Appellations. Credit: Wine Country Ontario

Before I share my thoughts on each flight, it’s import to note the vast range of growing conditions in Niagara. With two regional appellations, 10 sub appellations and as many microclimates and distinct geological profiles, Niagara Peninsula produces an eclectic assortment of Cab Franc styles. Within the 50-mile band of Niagara geography and 17,000 acres of vines is a significant matrix of soils, elevation, lake (Ontario) and river (Niagara) influence. Growing Degree Days also exhibit a significant 148 point spread, from the cooler, windier Vinemount Ridge (1469) and Twenty Mile Bench (1523) in the west, to Niagara River (1606) and St. David’s Bench (1637) in the east. What’s true across the board, is the longer shoulder seasons which almost always guarantees beautiful phenolic ripeness in Cab Franc varietals.

Drink Up

Here are my topline observations on each flight. Keep scrolling and you’ll find the full list of wines and tasting notes (with thanks to Barb Tatarnic, organizer of the event and Manager of Outreach and Continuing Education at CCOVI). There were many yummy Cab Francs and I’ve put my own 3 *** beside my favourite in each round (which was a hard thing to do).

Flight 1 – Vertical: 2013 to 2015 Vintages

Sadly, I showed up a tad late (blame Toronto traffic – grrr) but with enough time to quickly swill the seven wines and hear the results. This flight included three producers, three single vineyard blocks and a mix of 2013, 2014 and 2015 vintages. The first three and last two wines were light-bodied Cab Francs, with tart red fruit, rustic herbal, tobacco and rosemary qualities and zesty acidity across the board. Wines 4 (delicious) and 5 expressed the typical pyrazine perfumes of Cab Franc with a riper profile of red fruit.

What jumped out at me was the consistency between wines 1 – 3 (Tawse Winery, Lincoln Lakeshore, Laundry Vineyard 2013, 2014, 2015). Interestingly, the winemaker, Paul Pender of Tawse Winery in Twenty Mile Bench talked about his Cab Franc winemaking style at the previous week’s Terroir conference in Toronto. “Where we are – further west on the Peninsula – Cab Franc is treated a lot like Pinot Noir – with delicacy, less oak, fewer punch downs, less extraction and softer tannins,” he said. “The style at Tawse is elegant, perfumed wine that’s great with food.”

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Further east and closer to the Lake, things heat up. More Growing Degree Days results in riper wines and that was definitely obvious with the two, Two Sisters wines (Niagara River, 2013 & 2014), both in the fruit profile and great secondary flavours of mocha and chocolate.

Flight 2 – 2015 Cab Franc

Rob Powers
Creekside Winemaker – Rob Powers. Photo Credit: Creekside Winery

“2015 was a ripe year. Mother nature did some early crop thinning for us with the frost in spring, and if we filter for vintage variation and winemaking – picking date, oak choices, skin contact – is there an east west or sub-appellation story in these seven wines?” asked Creekside winemaker Rob Powers, one of the experts leading the audience through the second flight of 2015 wines.

This tasting was a bit of a group effort at table 15 and every wine in the flight displayed the benchmark Cab Franc herbaceous qualities, albeit on a sliding scale. This flight represented for me, the very best of the varietal and proof that Ontario makes stunning, delicious Cab Franc wines. The wines were zesty fresh and ranged from exceptionally light bodied, food friendly (1-3) to medium bodied, riper, smoky, mocha flavoured wines (4-7). The question challenged the sub-appellation story and the answer was obvious in the tasting. When the vintage is strong as it was across the entire peninsula, the wide range of grapes and terroir expression is clearly reflected in the character of the wines.

Flight 3 – Courage

Courage to stay the course? Courage to follow your own path? No one explicitly spelled out this theme, but the expert for this flight was Angelo Pavan, lead Winemaker at Cave Spring Cellars for the last 30 years. The challenge on the table was “is there a family resemblance story with these wines?”

Cavespring cr wines in niagara
Cave Springs Winemaker Angelo Pavan. Photo Credit: Wines in Niagara

The seven Cab Francs represented 2013 – 2016 vintages and two different vineyard blocks, all west of Beamsville. Of course, in the end, after evaluating the wines, we learned the flight was Angelo’s progeny with all Cab Franc wines from Cave Spring Cellars. As lead winemaker, he suggested they should ‘all incorporate a similar winemaking style’ and Angelo’s hard and fast perspective on oak use. “Oak should provide support and structure. You’ve ruined the terroir if you can taste the barrel,” he courageously argued.

I’ve been a Cave Spring fan for many years and found the purity of fruit in the cooler 2014 vintage (4) exceptionally delicious rivalled only by the warmer 2016, which was more concentrated, a little rounder, with a delicate herbal bouquet.

Flight 4 –The Kids Don’t Get It

This flight was a nod to all the decisions that go into the winemaking process and specifically, Cab Franc.

Megalomaniac-Winery-Niagara
Megalomaniac winemaker – Sebastian Jacquey and owner John Howard. Photo Credit: Megalomaniac Wines

Winemakers love to credit the vineyard in a good year, as Sebastian Jacquey of Megalomaniac Wines did when he led us through the forth flight. But he also provided some interesting context on the decision tree that winemakers grapple with come harvest. “ I start with what I know: we have a short growing season here, we have hot humid summers, we have a long fall and we do not have centuries of experience like in France,” explained Jacquey, who hails from the Nevers region in Burgundy. “Do I want a lighter style or do I add more texture? Do I want to extract more or less fruit? Do I bring the fermentation temperature down so I don’t get as much green herbal flavor? Is this a seven-day fermentation or do I push to 42 days? Do I use oak or do I cut back? Do I try American oak to cover extraction?”

This round took us through some of the production decision tradeoffs made by the winemaker, in a flight of wines where prices ranged from $10.25 to $95.00, Sebastian reminded us there is always a process, but never a right or wrong way. “The right way matches the market conditions, and the philosophy of your winemaking.” This flight included 3 very young, 2016 vintages 2 x 2015 and 2 x 2014.

Flight 4 was another outstanding range of Ontario Cab Franc styles with – as I see it – a sliding scale of fresh (pyrazine, grass, dill, eucalyptus) to savoury herbal characteristics (rosemary, oregano, tobacco, cigar). Niagara Cab Franc – it should be pointed out – is a reliable phenolic ripener with fine, smooth tannins vs the sometimes bitter and astringent qualities and tannin of unripe Cabernet Sauvignon. Interestingly, this flight also featured 2 ringers: a Lake Erie North Shore appellation Cab Franc which is south of Niagara. It was lighter in body and texture, but oozed tart cherry and a gentle grass-like perfume. The second ringer was a ripe, earthy, tobacco flavoured Chinon from Cab Franc’s homeland.

Flight #5 – Wine OptionsNo Dress Rehearsal

et wsWasn’t this fun! Led by Chris Waters in what I’m told is an annual tradition, our table started strong and then struggled to gain consensus on the clues offered up by the lol expert. So no prize for us!

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What a great day celebrating Cab Franc’s rising star! It’s clear Ontario Cab Franc wines are made with respect for the terroir and an intense passion for the fabulously nuanced qualities of the grape. Congratulations to the tasting panel for the outstanding collection of Ontario VQA wines and to recipients of the VQA Promoters awards for their outstanding achievements in the grape and wine industry.

A full list of the wines tasted follows.

Flight 1: Vertical

1.  2013 Lincoln Lakeshore, Laundry Vyd., Tawse Winery, 3955 Cherry Avenue, Vineland, ON        905-562-9500 Web: tawsewinery.ca
 The 2013 Laundry Cabernet Franc is herbaceous with notes of cigar box and dried berries. The palate is smooth with approachable tannins, oak spice and blueberry. $34.95

2.  2014 Lincoln Lakeshore, Laundry Vyd., Tawse Winery. The 2014 Laundry Cabernet Franc shows green peppercorn, eucalyptus hints of charcuterie and tart raspberry. The palate with well-integrated tannins and beautiful mouthfeel shows wild blueberries and cedar. $34.95

3.  2015 Lincoln Lakeshore, Laundry Vyd., Tawse Winery. The 2015 Laundry Cabernet Franc is jammy and fruity with aromas of ripe berries and oak spice. On the palate is dried fruit, sweet oak and grippy tannins. $34.95

4.*** 2013 Niagara River, Cabernet Franc, Two Sisters Vineyards, 240 John Street East, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON  905-468-0592 Web: twosistersvineyards.com
 After a challenging growing season, our patience in allowing some extended hang time into November allowed the grapes to achieve optimal phenolic ripeness. Cropped at 2.1 tons per acre the grapes were harvested on Nov 16 at 23.3 Brix. After a two week fermentation under pressure in our Mythos tanks with select yeast this wine spent 24 months in 90% French and 10% American, 15% of which was new. Bottled October 3rd 2013. $55.00

5.  2014 Niagara River, Cabernet Franc, Two Sisters Vineyards.   
Winter of 2013 was fairly brutal and naturally led to a very low crop of Cab Franc, just .76 tons per acre. This led to very concentrated and ripe fruit come harvest on Nov 10th. Grapes were picked at 24.1 brix and underwent a two-week ferment in our Mythos tanks. After ferment, the wine spent 32 months in 100% French oak, 15% new. Bottled Sept 28th 2017. $55.00

6.  2013 Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block 11-140 Cabernet Franc , 3290 9th Street, St. Catharines, 905-641-1030 Web: rockwayvineyards.com
   This block is situated on east borderline of the Twenty Mile Bench sub-appellation. Soil is silty clay over clay loam till. Vines were planted in 1994 (unknown Clone). VSP trained to 2 canes, 2 clusters per shoot. Roughly 3t/acre. Harvested on November 11th at 21.6 brix. 5 day cold soak, 2 pump overs daily and pressed off after cap fall. Malo-lactic in barrel. 18 months ageing in 100 % French oak (15% new, 15% 2nd fill, 70% neutral). $22.95

7  2015 Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block 11-140 Cabernet Franc, 3290 9th Street, St. Catharines, 905-641-1030 Web: rockwayvineyards.com
     Same block as 2013 (Far East of Twenty Mile Bench). Soil is silty clay over clay loam till. Vines were planted in 1994 (unknown Clone). VSP trained to 2 canes, 2 clusters per shoot, 100% leaf removal at fruit set. Roughly 3t/acre. Harvested on October 30th at 22.6 brix. 5 day cold soak, inoculated primary fermentation and 10 day post maceration. Malolactic in barrel. 18 months ageing in 100 % French oak, no racking. (15% new, 85% neutral). $24.75

Flight # 2: ’15 mission: Cab

1.  2015 Twenty Mile Bench, Cabernet Franc, Malivoire Wine Company, 4260 King St. E., Beamsville, 905-563-9253 Web: malivoire.com
     Picked at Wismer Vineyard on October 15th at 21.9 °Brix. Fermented 15 days in a mature 3T open top oak cuvee. Completed malolactic fermentation the following spring in barrel and aged for a total of 14 months, ten months in French oak, 25% new, followed by four months in neutral barrels. Bottled April 2017-142 cases. By the numbers: 12.5% alc., 2 g/l RS, 3.5 pH, 6.8 g/l TA. $26.96

2.  2015 Vinemount Ridge, Picone Vyd., Fogolar Wines. Available at Di Profio Wines 4055 Nineteenth Street. Jordan, 905-380-7846 Web: fogolarwines.ca
     The 2015 Fogolar Picone Vineyard Cabernet Franc is produced entirely from the 1.25 acre block of Cabernet Franc from the Picone Vineyard in the Vinemount Ridge sub-appellation. The fruit from this vineyard consistently produces beautiful aromatics supported by firm tannins and great acidity. Aged for 16 months in new and used French and American oak, this wine is a selection of 3 barrels from an 8 barrel lot yielding a total production of 70 cases. $44.20

3.  2015 Twenty Mile Bench, Bo-Teek, Clone 327, Vineland Estates Winery, 3620 Moyer Road, Vineland, 905-562-7088
     Planted two decades ago in the north block of lower bench Bo-Teek Vineyard (Twenty Mile Bench) the clone 327 Cabernet Franc is really starting to demonstrate its full promise. The grapes were machine harvested on October 30th (22.43 Brix at Harvest) and were immediately processed through our optical sorter where 100% of the MOG and approximately 12-15% of the grapes (immature, damaged, etc.) were removed. The wine spent 18 months in neutral oak barrels and remained on the course lees for the entire time. The lees were stirred for the first 4 months. The wine has residual sugar of 5.1 g/L and total acidity of 5.55 g/L. 372 cases were produced. $35.00

4.  2015 Niagara Peninsula, Cabernet Franc, Marynissen Estates, 1209 Concession 1, Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-468-7270 Web: marynissen.com
     The 2015 Marynissen Cabernet Franc is one of our most important wines, offering the quality and value that we strive for at Marynissen. The wines used for this blend were fermented in stainless steel with 14 days of maceration followed by full malolactic fermentation and ageing in new and used French and American oak barrels for 14-16 months. Following ageing, barrels were selected for freshness and varietal typicity. 700 cases of this wine were produced. $17.95

5.  2015 Four Mile Creek, Clark Farm Vyd., Red Shale, Trius Winery, 1249 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-468-3201 Web: trius wines.com
     Our single vineyard CF at Clark Farm in Virgil was picked at 24.7 brix in October 23rd and fermented in small wooded vats, then aged for 18 months in 100% French oak (40% new). Red shale and gravely deposits in the light clay soils provide great drainage and maximum concentration, with the French oak allowing varietal character and full vintage expression. This warm site has always allowed us to reach full ripeness and allows great extraction for longer term cellaring.
13.9% alc, $48.95, 325 cases made. $$48.75

6.***  2015 Four Mile Creek, Serluca Family Vyd. Cabernet Franc, Creekside Estate Winery, 2170 4th Avenue, Jordan Station, ON, 905-562-0035 Web: http://www.creeksidewine.com
   Harvested at 24.0 Brix on October 30th 2015 from the Serluca Vineyard in the 4 Mile Creek sub-appellation. Crushed to tank for a 5-day cold soak before ferment. After 26 days on skins the wine was put to barrel (mostly older wood, about 70:30 French:American) for malolactic fermentation and 19 months aging. Seven barrels chosen for the final blend. Racked with light filtration then bottled August 9, 2017. $25.00

7.  2015 Andrew Peller Signature Series Cabernet Franc, Peller Estates Winery, 290 John Street E., Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON, 905-468-4678 Web: peller.com
   From our Carlton Farm vineyard in Four Mile Creek, the yield was adjusted to achieve optimal maturity. Fruit was destemmed, gently crushed, fermented in oak and on skins for 18 days. Aged for 20 months in French oak barriques, 20% of which were new. $48.95

 Flight #3 – Courage

1.  2016 Niagara Escarpment, Dolomite, Cabernet Franc, Cave Spring Cellars, 3836 Main Street, Jordan 905-562-3581 Web: cavespring.ca
   Origin: 89% Beamsville Bench, 11% Four Mile Creek
89% Cave Spring Vineyard- 47% Etherington, 21% Homefarm, 17% Shoreline, clones 214,327, 4% Quarry Rd., clones unknown. Harvest Date- Oct. 18 – Nov. 1, 2016; Sugar- 23.3o Brix; Alc./Vol. 13.5 %
A 14-day maceration was followed by gentle pressing and aging for 11 months in predominantly older French, Hungarian and American oak barriques. Full Malolactic Fermentation was completed in barrels. $24.95

2.  2015 Niagara Escarpment, Dolomite, Cabernet Franc, Cave Spring Cellars. Origin: 85.5% Beamsville Bench, 14.5% Lincoln Lakeshore
100% Cave Spring Vineyard- 48% Shoreline, 37.5% Etherington, clones 214, 327, 14.5% Tufford Rd., clones unknown Harvest Date- Oct. 22 – 27, 2015; Sugar- 24.1o Brix; Alc./Vol. 14.5 %
A 14-day maceration was followed by gentle pressing and aging for 18 months in predominantly older French, Hungarian and American oak barriques. Full Malolactic Fermentation was completed in barrel. $24.95

3.  2015 Niagara Escarpment, Cabernet Franc, Cave Spring Cellars. 
Origin: 95% Beamsville Bench, 5% Lincoln Lakeshore
100% Cave Spring Vineyard- 77% Etherington, 16% Shoreline, clones 214, 327, 5% Tufford Rd., 2% Quarry road, clones unknown
Harvest Date- Oct. 27, 2015; Sugar- 24.1o Brix; Alc./Vol. 14.5 %
A 14-day maceration was followed by gentle pressing and aging for 18 months in predominantly older French, Hungarian and American oak barriques. Full Malolactic Fermentation was completed in barrel. $17.95

4.***  2014 Niagara Escarpment, Dolomite, Cabernet Franc, Cave Spring Cellars. 
Origin: 100% Beamsville Bench
100% Cave Spring Vineyard- 66% Etherington, 26.5% Shoreline, clones 214, 327, 7.5% Quarry Rd., clones unknown Harvest Date- Oct. 22 – 29, 2014; Sugar- 23.1o Brix; Alc./Vol. 13.5 %
A 14-day maceration was followed by gentle pressing and aging for 18 months in predominantly older French, Hungarian and American oak barriques. Full Malolactic fermentation was completed in barrel. $27.95

5.  2013 Niagara Escarpment, Cabernet Franc, Cave Spring Cellars. 
Origin: 100% Beamsville Bench
100% Cave Spring Vineyard- 83% Etherington, clones 214, 327, 17% Quarry Rd., clone unknown
Harvest Date- Oct. 28 – 30, 2013; Sugar- 23.4o Brix; Alc./Vol. 14.5 %
Following a 12-day maceration in tank, about one-third of the partially fermented must was bled un-pressed or ‘free-run’ into barriques to finish fermentation. The remaining two-thirds completed fermentation in tank, after which it was gently pressed and transferred into barriques. Both lots underwent 100% Malolactic Fermentation in barrel and remained in barrel for 15 months, using a mix of 40% French, 35% older Hungarian and 25% American oak. Overall, 25% of the barrels were new. $19.95

6.  2015 Beamsville Bench, Estate, Cabernet Franc, Cave Spring Cellars.
Origin: 100% Beamsville Bench
100% Cave Spring Vineyard- 55% Shoreline, 45% Etherington, clones 214, 327.
Harvest Date- Oct. 22 – 23, 2015; Sugar- 24.5 o Brix; Alc./Vol. 14.9%
Following a 14 day maceration, the wine was gently pressed and transferred into a mixture of 500 L puncheons and 225 L barriques where it remained for 16 months, using a mix of 48% Hungarian and 52% French oak. Overall, 32% of the barrels were new. Full Malolactic Fermentation was completed in barrel. $39.95

7.  2013 Beamsville Bench, Estate, Cabernet Franc, Cave Spring Cellars. 
Origin: 100% Beamsville Bench
100% Cave Spring Vineyard- 65% Etherington, clones 214, 327, 35% Quarry Rd, clone unknown
Harvest Date- Oct. 28 – 30, 2013; Sugar- 23.8 o Brix; Alc./Vol. 14.5%
Following a 14 day maceration, the wine was gently pressed and transferred into a mixture of 500 L puncheons and 225 L barriques where it remained for 13 months, using a mix of 64% French, 20% older Hungarian and 16% American oak. Overall, 20% of the barrels were new. Full Malolactic fermentation was completed in barrel. $39.95

Flight #4 The Kids Don’t Get It

1.  2016 Cabernet Franc by Colchester Ridge Estate Winery, 100% LENS fruit harvested 10th November 2016.
Crushed directly to tank and inoculated; pressed after 23 days. MLF and élevage in 2-5yr old French and American oak barrels, racked after 8months. The fruit and wine saw no enzyme, tannin or fining to preserve primary fruit character. Available at Vintages and the winery. 316 cases. $22.95

2.  2016 Niagara Peninsula, Equus Series, Cabernet Franc, Magnotta Wines, 271 Chrislea Road, Vaughan, 905-738-9463 Web: magnotta.com   Grapes mechanically harvested at a minimum 22.0 ̊ brix. After a couple of days of cold maceration, grapes are inoculated with a special type of yeast that’s suitable to the varietal’s character. Fermentation conducted at 28-30 ̊C in temperature controlled, stainless steel fermenters over a period of 7 days. After pressing, wine naturally underwent malolactic fermentation in the tank, followed by cold stabilization and aging in stainless steel for 10 months over French oak to extract additional flavors before bottling. 13.0% alcohol/volume. $10.25

3.  2016 Niagara Peninsula, Cabernet Franc, Trius Winery, 1249 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-468-3201 Web: trius wines.com
   The 2016 Trius CF was all machine harvested and fermented in large stainless steel tanks for 7 days. The wine then spent 7 months with French and American oak before bottling in June, 2017. Grapes were harvested from predominantly growers in NOTL with a small component of APL-owned fruit. The hot 2016 growing season provided the perfect template to extract maximum colour and tannin due to lower than average yields. 13 % alc, $15.95, 7000 cases made. $15.75

4.  2015 Private Reserve Cabernet Franc, Peller Estates Winery, 290 John Street E., Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON, 905-468-4678 Web: peller.com
A blend of vineyards with fruit coming from Carlton Farm and Lawrie vineyards. The favourable fall weather allowed for extended hang time for this fruit. Machine harvested, destemmed and gently crushed, MLF completed in barrel and aged in both French and American oak for 12 months. $22.95

5.*** 2015 Niagara-on-the-Lake, Decant, Cabernet Franc, Stratus, 2059 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-468-1805 Web: stratuswines.com
   HARVESTED: November 17, 2015 BRIX AT HARVEST: 25.6 TONNES PER ACRE: 1.3 COOPERAGE: 578 days in French oak | 50% new Unfiltered and Bottled with Lees. The wine bottle boasts a deconstructed, stratified design reflecting the geological complexity of the soils from which the wine is grown… This layered glass creates a slip-resistant handle and further acts as a decanter for the naturally forming sediment from leaving the wine unfiltered and in contact with the lees. $95.00

6.  2014 Niagara-on-the-Lake, Decant, Cabernet Franc, Stratus. HARVESTED: November 20, 2014 BRIX AT HARVEST: 23.3- TONNES PER ACRE: 1.5 COOPERAGE: 571 days in French oak |100% new Unfiltered and Bottled with Lees. The wine bottle boasts a deconstructed, stratified design reflecting the geological complexity of the soils from which the wine is grown… This layered glass creates a slip-resistant handle and further acts as a decanter for the naturally forming sediment from leaving the wine unfiltered and in contact with the lees. $95.00

7.  2014 Chinon, Domaine René Couly, France. Cabernet Franc from the Chinon region are among the finest reds produced in the Loire. Known locally as ‘Breton’, Cab Francs from Chinon are typically quite supple and have a distinct green pepper note mixed in among the red raspberry and cherry tones. These wines often suggest a graphite-tinged minerality. A nice match for a meaty stew, particularly one featuring lamb. $22.95

Flight 5

1.  2016 Niagara Peninsula, Cabernet Franc, Cave Spring Cellars, 3836 Main Street, Jordan 905-562-3581 Web: cavespring.ca
   Origin: 60% Beamsville Bench, 22% Lincoln Lakeshore, 19%Four Mile Creek
60% Cave Spring Vineyard- 32% Etherington, 14% Homefarm, 11% Shoreline, clones 214, 327, 3%Quarry Rd., clone unknown, Harvest Date- Oct. 18 – Nov. 1, 2016; Sugar- 22.8o Brix; Alc./Vol. 13.5 %. A 14-day maceration was followed by gentle pressing and aging for 11 months in predominantly older French, Hungarian and American oak barriques. Full Malolactic Fermentation was completed in barrel. $17.95

2.  2016 Cabernet Franc, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Fielding Estate Winery, 4020 Locust Lane, Beamsville, ON L0R 1B2 905-563-0668 http://www.fieldingwines.com Fermented and kept on skins for a total of 3-4 weeks in stainless steel, each lot of Cabernet Franc was kept separate in the winery and then assembled after aging for just over one year in French oak (approximately 25% new). Bottled without fining or filtration. $24.95

3. *** 2014 Oldfield Reserve, Tinhorn Creek, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, 537 Tinhorn Creek Rd., Oliver, BC 250-498-3743 Web: tinhorn.com
 Soft ruby red colour. The nose is sweet, with dried cherries, fresh plum and cocoa powder. The French oak gives subtle spicy notes of vanilla bean and clove. Palate has impeccable balance of power and elegance with a perfect harmony of fruit and oak spice. The wine has great Cabernet Franc typicity with soft red fruits and slight herbal edge. Will evolve well in the cellar but is drinking very well right now. $31.99

4.  2016 Niagara-on-the-Lake, Decant, Cabernet Franc, Stratus. 2059 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-468-1805 Web: stratuswines.com
 HARVESTED: November 16, 2016 BRIX AT HARVEST: 25.0 TONNES PER ACRE: 2.1 COOPERAGE: 513 days so far in French oak | 40% new Unfiltered and Bottled with Lees. The wine bottle boasts a deconstructed, stratified design reflecting the geological complexity of the soils from which the wine is grown… This layered glass creates a slip-resistant handle and further acts as a decanter for the naturally forming sediment from leaving the wine unfiltered and in contact with the lees. $95.00

5  2015 Niagara Peninsula, The Chestnut Tree, Cabernet Franc, Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery, 3210 Staff, St. Catharines, 905-562-1719 Web: sue-annstaff.com
 Cabernet franc was hand harvested and berry selected exclusively from the estate vineyard in Jordan, ON, sub-appellation 20 Mile Bench. 10-year-old vines grown on thin clay soils with escarpment limestone rock beneath. 2015 – a warm summer with very little crop due to a very cold winter provided small concentrated berries. Winemaking Data: cool fermented with yeast specialized to metabolize malic acid and hand plunged twice daily for 12 days. A total of 30 days on skins with continued hand plunging daily. 100% malolactic in oak. 50% French, 50% American with 60% of the barrels being new. Aged 22 months in barrique. Alcohol: 13.1%; RS: 4 g/L; pH 3.62; TA 5.9 g/L. Bottled Sept. 2017. $34.95

Feature Image Photo Credit: chuyengiaruou.com

 

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