Tag Archives: red wine

Know Your Grapes: Cab Franc

Cab Franc is coming into style BIG TIME in Walla Walla right now. While not considered one of the quintessential Walla Walla varietals (like Syrah, Cab, and Merlot), Cab Franc is becoming ever more present in tasting rooms- and tasters are starting to ask for it.

What is Cab Franc?  Cab Franc is a grape variety that is mostly used as a blending grape to beef up the aromatics in Bordeaux-style blends, and can be green or vegetal and thin when it’s not fully ripe. The Loire specializes in Cab Francs and produces some really nice 100% Cab Francs wines.

Why is it delicious?  When it ripens well, it can be very aromatic and delicious and seems to lend itself well to barrel flavors. I’ve had some really deliciously fruity and floral Cab Francs, earthy and soft Cab Francs and more chocolate-vanilla (typical barrel flavors) Cab Francs. The barrel notes can beef up a Cab Franc if it’s tasting a little thin. Cab Francs also tend to be less tannic than, say, Cab Sauvs, which means they’re a little more versatile in terms of food pairings, and they’re more approachable right away.

What would you pair with Cab Franc?  I’d pair Cab Franc with a dish that had some heartiness to it, but nothing that would overpower a slightly lighter wine: mushroom and spinach risotto, roasted root vegetables (beets, potatoes, carrots), or a Greek quinoa salad with feta.

Who does Cab Franc in Walla Walla? More and more wineries! I’ve tasted and enjoyed Cab Francs from Trust, Watermill, Saviah, Northstar, Tertulia, El Corazon, Balboa, and Canoe Ridge. I’m sure there are others that I haven’t yet discovered!

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Know Your Grapes: Tempranillo

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photo by bongo vongo via flikr

Tempranillo is one of those grapes that I know a little about, but that I rarely drink.  It’s not as common in Walla Walla, although I can think of four or five wineries off the top of my head that have one. It’s definitely not as ubiquitous as Syrah in this region. I think some people thought  it was going to be the next big thing in the US for wine varieties, but then Malbec kind of took over (probably because it’s easier to pronounce). In the spirit of learning, we themed our tasting group around Tempranillo this week! We ended up with three Washington Tempranillos and one Rioja. 

Tempranillo is a grape that’s mostly associated with the Rioja region in Spain; while Rioja grows other varieties as well, Tempranillo is the predominant grape. There is some Tempranillo in the US as well; as evidenced by the five or so wineries here in Walla Walla that produce it!

Mostly Tempranillo is considered to be a pretty tannic wine, although winemakers can make it more drinkable right away, depending on their winemaking method. I’ve been shopping around for Tempranillo on some online wine stores, and there are some older Rioja Tempranillos available for pretty decent prices; if you’re into mellower wines, these will probably be the Tempranillos to check out!

What does Tempranillo taste like? At the tasting, the common thread seemed to be a spicy kick to all the Tempranillos. Some of them were more baking spicy (like nutmeg) and some leaned more towards hot spicy (like chipotle and paprika). Tempranillos are often pretty fruity as well, and some of the Walla Walla bottles had some of the meatiness that characterizes a lot of Walla Walla wines. Mostly, they seemed to be medium-bodied with moderate acidity and fairly high tannin.

What to eat with Tempranillo: Because it’s so bold, Tempranillo can really stand up to some heartier dishes; a spicy nut mix or bean dip for appetizers, and maybe a spicy chili for a main dish or rice with chorizo!

What are your favorite Tempranillos? This is a grape I’d like to explore more!

What I’m Drinking: Old Seven Hills

So, tonight we broke open that bottle of 2000 Seven Hills Syrah at dinner with some friends, and it was so fresh tasting for 13 years old! As per Walla Walla, it was a funky, earthy Syrah, and some good fruit still. We were all pretty impressed, especially as it opened up. And then our friends pulled out a bottle of 1998 Seven Hill Merlot, and that was also fresh and bright, with some tannin to it still. I’ve found that Washington Merlots age better and hold their fruit longer than Washington Cabernets do, while it seems to me like it should be the other way around.

Either way, it was really neat to taste a couple of old wines from a Walla Walla winery known for its long-lived vintages!

What’s the oldest wine you’ve ever tasted?

Varietal Spotlight: All About Cabernet Sauvignon

If you like wine, it’s hard not to know Cabernet Sauvignon. Although it’s not the most widely sold red wine (that would be merlot), it’s widely grown and recognizable by almost everyone who drinks red wine.

What is Cabernet Sauvignon?

Cabernet Sauvignon is the result of a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc way back when, which produced a thick-skinned, durable, and delicious grape that went on to become one of the stars of the Bordeaux region in France and, later, in almost every grape-growing country in both Old and New world wine regions.

Where is it grown?

Lots of places. France (particularly in the Bordeaux region), Italy, Spain, Chile, Australia, California, Washington, you name it. Almost every country that grows grapes has cab, and they all turn out differently. Regions with cooler weather will produce cabs with more vegetal flavors to them, and hot weather regions will make cabs with lots of ripe fruit and berry.

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True Story: White Chardonnay

I was pouring at an event put on by a local organization, largely very pleasant people who were mostly non-wine drinkers. One of the less pleasant people came up to the bar, inspected the wine we were pouring, and pompously asked, “Is that a white Chardonnay?”

I really hate to judge people who don’t know about wine, because I get it. Not everyone knows about wine. But I do, in my heart of hearts, judge people who pretend that they know a lot about wine and act pompous about it.

A Lesson to Take Away: Chardonnay is always white and please be polite to your servers.

What I’m Drinking

I’m drinking Kerloo Cellars 2009 Temperanillo! This is a bottle my boyfriend got for free (people love giving him free wine; I still haven’t learned his secret…maybe a code word I need to know?) Kerloo’s 2009 Temperanillo is sold out now, but they have a 2010 Temperanillo for sale, which I haven’t yet tried. Their Temperanillo isn’t crazy unreasonable in price, but maybe a little more than new drinkers are willing to spend. It will run you $34, which I think is a good value for this wine.

Well balanced earth and fruit, bright flavors, and not too spicy for a Temperanillo; this is a wine that goes well with food. It tasted even better the second day it was open! The grapes come from Wahluke Slope and Walla Walla.

Pair it with: Butternut Squash Risotto

Check them out online for information about the winery or to order wine!