Winery/Vineyard: Frangipani Estate Winery
Product/Varietal: 100% Cabernet Franc
AVA on Bottle: Temecula Valley
Winemaker: Don Frangipani
How They Describe It
Earthy flavors with chocolate notes and a dry, heavy tannin finish.
How I Describe It
The Frangipani 2016 Cabernet Franc is not quite “deep” in color intensity, but certainly a darker shade of medium. While mostly ruby in hue, the wine displays significant garneting, especially when poured side-by-side with youngish reds.
For context, a wine’s color shifts from red to garnet (and eventually brown) as the liquid gets exposed to oxygen — not unlike what happens to bananas or apples when left in the open. Oak-aged wines are exposed to tiny amounts of oxygen over prolonged periods of time (called microoxygenation). Oak is porous, and natural temperature changes throughout the day cause the wood to expand and contract. As the wood expands, wine from inside the barrel and oxygen from outside the barrel fill the pores. When the wood contracts, it spits the oxygenated wine back into the barrel.
The Frangipani 2016 Cabernet Franc spent 33 months — almost three years — in 85% new oak barrels. So it had quite a bit of time to oxygenate.
Elements of oak come across strongest on the nose. Vanilla, clove, and nutmeg are dominant, but mingle with a bouquet of pine, brioche, violet, and lavender. Juicy red strawberries and raspberries signal the fruit was harvested at peak ripeness. Meanwhile, soft aromas of leather and forest floor appear just behind.
Black currant, raspberry, cranberry, and strawberry combine into a ripe, fruity concoction. Concurrently, flavors of green, freshly cut cedar juxtapose with charcoal, bittersweet chocolate, black coffee, and tobacco. Through the oak and fruit, subtle notes of brioche and pastry, leather, and forest floor can be detected.
This is a dry wine. Very high tannins from the extended time in new oak combine with high acid and high alcohol to give the Frangipani 2016 Cabernet Franc an densely full body. Flavor intensity is medium-plus, with a medium finish.
Why is This Wine Special?
The Frangipani 2016 Cabernet Franc is a fun wine. First, it’s the Temecula Wine Rating’s first vertical review — where we’ll have reviewed two consecutive vintages.
Second, the wine comes from high quality fruit. In fact, its root system essentially sits over an underground creek bed. Temecula Valley grapevines having access to a natural water supply is an incredible rarity, and very clearly articulates the AVA’s terroir in the berries.
Last, being so high in tannins, the wine is a very clear example of chemistry in action. Taking a sip of a freshly opened bottle of the 2016 Cab Franc will reveal cloying astringency. New oak barrels can impart a lot of tannins, and this wine was aged for almost three years in it. That’s a lot of very fresh wood flavors.
However, set your glass aside for an hour. Then take a sip. The wine is still fairly astringent, but far less than during the first sip. And the fruit characteristics are a bit brighter too.
Set the glass aside for another hour. Sip again.
Like the parting of a storm, the tannic astringency has receded into a pleasant if somewhat chalky texture. Like curtains spreading, the wine reveals ripe red fruit and delicate floral notes. The Frangipani 2016 Cabernet Franc is now ready to be enjoyed at its full potential.
All of this happened because of what oxygen does to tannin molecules. Tannins are perceived as astringent because of how they bind to taste receptors on our tongues. As the tannin particles mix with oxygen, their binding ability diminishes, and we perceive the molecules differently. In other words, with those three sips, you experience a major chemical reaction in real time.
Another way tannins chemically change is through bottle aging. Over time, tannin molecules bind to each other, creating long strands. We perceive those long tannin strands as velvety, which is why older high-tannin wines are often described that way. Similarly, the Frangipani 2016 Cabernet Franc could absolutely age well. The high tannins, alcohol, and acid would make it a welcome addition to a cellar for at least another five years.
When & How I Would Drink It
Pair the 2016 Cabernet Franc with fat. Simple as that. Fat.
Fat is another molecule which binds with tannins, magnifying fruity and floral characteristics in the process.
Of course, red meat is an outstanding fatty food which would not only help restrain the tannins, but also taste amazing next to Cab Franc’s natural fruit flavors. Personally, I’d opt for grilling ribeye or burgers. However, pan seared New York strip with a garlic butter sauce and a sprig of sage would be dynamite.
Then again, there’s also chocolate. Normally, sweet foods pair poorly with dry wines. The higher sugar in the food heightens the wine’s lack of sugar. However, the 2016 Cab Franc is devoid of residual sugar. In other words, it doesn’t get dryer. Taking a sip of wine and immediately popping a square of dark chocolate in your mouth could be amazing.
How to Get It
Order: Call (951) 699-8845 for more info.
Bottle Price: $36 (discounts for wine club members)
Cases Produced: 185
Have you tried the Frangipani 2016 Cabernet Franc? How did the tasting notes compare with your experience? Leave a comment below.