Surprise winner in "Let's Be Franc" blind tasting

We recently hosted our fourth annual single-varietal dinner party and blind tasting. The theme this time around was "Let's Be Franc," which meant that Cabernet Franc was on the menu. It was a great way to share good wine with good friends and clear out a little inventory to make room for more wine.

There was also a surprise winner, but more on that later.

A Few Fun Facts

Cabernet Franc is definitely a lesser known grape, perhaps due in part because it is typically blended with other varietals rather than produced on its own. Here are a few facts about the grape:

  • Cabernet Franc is a parent grape of Cabernet Sauvignon
  • It's one of the five classic Bordeaux grapes
  • It's Sally's favorite

The Food

The right pairing can really bring out the best in both the food and the wine. Here's what was served:

Cheese Course
Dante (sheep's milk, Wisconsin)
Alta Badia (cow's milk, Italy)
Mellage (cow, goat, and sheep's milk, Wisconsin)

Dinner
Brisket with smashed potatoes and arugula salad.

Dessert
Balsamic-soaked raspberries layered with mascarpone cheese

We consulted the experts at Venissimo Cheese for the cheese course and turned to our reliable pairing resource, What to Drink with What You Eat, for dinner.

The Wines

All of the wines were discovered on our various travels and wine adventures.

Starter Wine
2010 Foxen Ernesto Wickenden Vineyard Chenin Blanc

Wines for Blind Tasting & Dinner
2005 Artesa Limited Release Cabernet Franc
2005 Peju Cabernet Franc
2005 Small Lot Wines Cabernet Franc

The Winner

All of the wines were delicious, but the surprise winner was the Small Lot Wines Cabernet Franc. Never heard of them? Here's the story that really blew our guests away:

Small Lot Wines is a sub-label of Vinavanti in San Diego's Mira Mesa neighborhood. That's right, Mira Mesa. 

Owner and vintner Eric Van Drunen had come across a guy in Paso Robles who was selling a single barrel of Cabernet Franc. He bought it and bottled the wine, yielding just 20 cases. The result was amazing!

The other two wines were no slouches either. The Peju picked up two first place votes and the Artesa (a re-buy for us) really perked up when it was paired with the meal.

Posted on February 8, 2013 .