Le Metro Wine Underground “From Sea to Shining Sea” July Tasting #2: Ankida Ridge Pinot Noir 2012 (VA) and Creekside Cellars (Cabernet) “Franc”, (CO) 2011

Aug 03

Ankida Ridge VineyardsIn a recent post I explained that I took place in a tasting and intermittent tweeting about the 6 wines of the month selected for consumers who subscribe to Le Metro Wine¬†Underground. For July the theme was “From Sea to Shining Sea,” with a thoughtful and very eclectic collection of wines from Colorado, Virginia, Wisconsin, Vermont and Texas.

The last pair of the month were a pinot noir from Ankida Ridge, VA 2012 (Amherst Co.) and a cabernet franc from Creekside Cellars in Colorado (2011). Both wines were distinctive, and could hardly have been more different within the category of dry red table wines.

I have blogged recently about the excellent Ankida Ridge pinot noir, describing it as “grand cru from young vines” and very Burgundian in style, with lively almost electric cherry fruit and bright acidity, clean and fresh and below 13% alcohol with oak well in the background. Due to high humidity in the Eastern time zone, making a pinot noir this good is no accident and means a lot of work in the vineyard and a good vineyard site, but this one proves it can be done.

I have been a fan of Colorado wines for almost a decade, and interestingly, cabernet franc is their star red grape as it also is in Virginia, despite different climates, soil types and hydrology. Many people feel that cabernet franc tolerates a lower level of oak than its more famous offspring, cabernet sauvignon (a cross between cab franc and sauvignon blanc). However, in Colorado cabernet franc can ripen to 14% alcohol and achieve much darker color than here on the East Coast, probably due to higher elevation and ultraviolet light.

Winemaker Michelle Cleveland of Creekside Cellars is talented and versatile, making aromatic and dry gewuztraminer, dry and full-bodied red blends, and in this case, a Gran Reserva (Spanish) style cabernet franc, labeled simply “Franc”. The wine was aged 24 months in oak, surprisingly long for cabernet franc. The color was impressively deep garnet. The nose was complex, like Grand Reserva Rioja with tea leaves, vanilla, coconut, dried mocha, and dried red cherries. On the palate, the wine was brisk, with crisp acidity typical of the grape up front and fine integration of fruit, oak, and acidity. A crisp, lively finish is also typical of the grape (alc. 13.9%).

For a Gran Reserva style, this is a young release; in Rioja they would typically release this 15+ years after the vintage to get the best balance, and the oak is a bit dominant now, but shows the potential of solid, ripe cabernet franc that is still true to the variety. So, two fine red dry red table wines, from very different states with very different climates, and with very different oak regimens, but both showing the fine potential for each grape variety in each state.

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