Friday, July 23, 2010

Best of BC: Cabernet

In a 2009 summary of their annual wine awards, Wine Access Magazine pondered if Cabernet Sauvignon should be grown in Canada suggesting that producer's efforts could be better spent elsewhere. In some cases they may be right. Cabernet Sauvignon is notoriously hard to ripen and many examples in Canada exhibit a green tannin character that no amount of aging will mellow or ripen. However, to say that we can't grow Cabernet Sauvignon as a nation, at all, is simply wrong. Producers are working hard to discover the best plots in their regions where the right clones of Cabernet Sauvignon will ripen beautifully producing fantastic wines. Below are some of our favourite examples from BC.

In an acknowledgement that the list of high quality Cabernet Sauvignons in BC is short, we've combined this list with our favourite Cabernet Francs.

Cabernet Franc is red grape that, along with Syrah, may prove to be one of BC's signature grapes in the near future. Producers are discovering that when properly ripened, the Cabernet Franc grape can produce charming and unique wines on its own without the need of blending (or much blending).

$20 and below:

Tinhorn Creek 2009 Cabernet Franc - $20
Perhaps it was the hotter than average vintage, or the fact the vines are now over 15+ years old, or the tried and tested winemaking techniques of Sandra Oldfield (or all of the above?). Whatever the case, Tinhorn have a real winner on their hands with this one. And it's only $20! Where to buy: BCLDB, VQA stores and direct from winery.
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Neck of the Woods Winery 2010 Backyard Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon - $20
a good balance between sweet dark fruit and savoury oak and vegetal characters resulting in a wine that delivers the structure you want from a Cabernet Sauvignon without the lofty price point and without resorting to added sugar to boost-up the body. Where to buy: VQA stores and direct from winery.
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$30 and below:

Gold Hill Winery 2009 Cabernet Franc - $25
This gorgeous wine exemplifies what Cabernet Franc can achieve at the southern end of the Okanagan Valley when planted in the right places. Rightfully so, this Franc has been reaping in the awards for Gold Hill since its release last year and shows excellent potential as the signature red wine for their Golden Mile Bench vineyard. Where to buy: Direct from winery.
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River Stone Estate Winery 2010 Cabernet Franc - $26
The winemaking team at River Stone Estate Winery certainly prove with the release of this tasty Cabernet Franc that they are adept at producing a rich and complex dry red wine with lower alcohol (13.6%). Where to buy: Direct from winery.
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La Frenz Winery 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon - $27
Big winner at the 2010 All Canadian Wine Competition winning the "Best Cabernet Sauvignon over $25" category. We recommend cellaring this beauty for two years before opening it. however, if you can't wait, you'll get ripe, round tannins and big dark berry flavours. Where to buy: Direct from winery. Select restaurants.
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Fairview Cellars 2010 Cabernet Franc - $27
A cool, but long 2010 growing season has given birth to a low alcohol and nuanced Cabernet Franc that offers a warm, feminine nose of violets, mandarin peel, ripe blackberry, boysenberry and soft oak aromas. Where to buy: Direct from winery.
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$40 and below:

Burrowing Owl Estate Winery 2009 Cabernet Franc - $33
Concentrated red fruit, sweet oak and mild, persistent spice follows on the elegant palate with well balanced levels of tannin and acid. The finish lingers lovingly in your mouth. Where to buy: Direct from winery.
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Fairview Cellars 2009 Premier Series Cabernet Sauvignon - $40
was a great year for the Fairview Cabernet wines. The hotter than average vintage ripened the thick skinned grape perfectly creating a dense, powerful and layered cool-climate Cabernet Sauvignon bursting with dark blue fruits and savoury black licorice on the seductive nose and intense palate. Where to buy: Direct from winery and select private wine shops.
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Painted Rock Estate Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon - $40
This Cabernet Sauvignon from Painted Rock Estate Winery presents the fabled Bordeaux varietal in its near-ideal, cool-climate form: fully ripe tannins and expressive dark fruit characters that benefit greatly from the élevage program of 100% new French oak resulting in a cool, refined and complex wine of distinction. Where to buy: Direct from winery.
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Rollingdale Winery 2007 "La Gauche" Cabernet Sauvignon - $40
Intense aromas of mocha espresso, cherry nibs, dark berries, cassis and licorice on the nose are followed by meaty flavours of leather, oak, earthy minerality and vanilla with a touch of dark fruits on the palate. Moderate alcohol, high acidity and integrated tannins contribute to a medium-bodied palate. Where to buy: Direct from winery.
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  1. It’s refreshing to read a good quality article for a change. You’ve made many interesting points and I agree. This has made me think and for that I thank you.
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  2. One of my favorite wine is Cabernet. I just love to know that I can go with different variety of cabs and that makes me satisfy with my choices. Thank you for sharing this source.

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