Winery: Oak Mountain Winery
Product/Varietal: 100% Cabernet Franc
AVA on Bottle: Temecula Valley
Winemaker: Steve Andrews
How They Describe It
Cabernet Franc is one of the genetic parents of Cabernet Sauvignon but it ripens earlier and has a less tannic structure than Cabernet Sauvignon. Our Estate Cab Franc is amazingly deep and dark in color. On the nose, aromas of tamarind, blackberry, allspice. Pairs well with braised lamb shanks, roasted chicken or pork, and grilled beef. Goes great with Gouda cheese.
How I Describe It
Grab a random four-year-old red wine bottle from Temecula, and odds are you’ll start seeing signs of aging; the red and/or purple hues begin shifting toward orange and brown due to micro-oxygenation. The Oak Mountain 2016 Cabernet Franc, by contrast, has preserved its ruby red color impressively well. Moreover, the color is remarkably deep — far more than your run-of-the-mill Cab Franc.
While using a wine’s appearance to predict its quality comes with a lot of uncertainty, in this case it provides a lot of context for what comes next.
Rich black currant, raspberry, red plum, and blueberry dominate the aromas. From there, black pepper, fennel, eucalyptus, and lavender complement. Toasted cedar comes across prominently along with vanilla and ever-so-subtle whiffs of coffee, chocolate, and smoke. A bit of turned earth whispers of the wine’s age, but it’s slight enough to conclude the 2016 Cabernet Franc has many more good cellaring years.
Eucalyptus and pine join cherry, raspberry, and black currant. Vanilla and cedar follow. A bit of alcohol can be detected, but it’s nothing that takes away from the overall experience. Spicy and herbal notes of black pepper, fennel and a touch of bell pepper blend with leather and turned earth.
This is a dry wine with high alcohol (14.3% ABV), especially for this particular varietal. That said, the slightly elevated heat from the alcohol compensates for the medium acidity (a tad lower than average). Gripping tannins also point to this bottling’s well-preserved youth. These characteristics together give the Oak Mountain 2016 Cabernet Franc a full body, with medium-plus flavor intensity, and a medium-plus finish.
Why is This Wine Special?
I founded Temecula Wine Ratings for a couple important reasons. First, only one nationally distributed wine publication spent any meaningful amount of time evaluating wines from the Temecula Valley AVA. More educated opinions were deserved. Secondly, despite the scant media attention, at wine competitions Temecula wineries regularly outperform similar products from other more established appellations. Nevertheless, Temecula’s reputation as a fine wine source is incredibly underdeveloped.
The Oak Mountain 2016 Cabernet Franc, though, is a wine purpose-built for cellaring. Make no mistake, it’s delicious now. But additional years in a controlled climate would allow the plentiful tannins to smooth out, and the higher-than-average alcohol would retain the wine’s freshness. Moreover, with only 163 cases in existence and going for only $36 per bottle, this is a rare wine priced aggressively. It would be an outstanding wine to add to a collection, or as a first set of bottles for those interested in experiencing the beauty of aging wines first-hand.
This isn’t surprising, coming from Oak Mountain Winery. They regularly produce high quality wines.
In full disclosure, Oak Mountain Winery donated the bottle described here. Other than providing the wine itself, there was no exchange of anything which would have influenced or unfairly biased this review.
It’s worth noting that every time you drink Cabernet Franc, you’re essentially drinking history. While Cabernet Franc is a staple in Bordeaux and Loire red wines, it is also the progenitor of two of the most popular, most influential varietals: Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as others.
When & How I Would Drink It
The Oak Mountain 2016 Cabernet Franc is another aperitif-style wine, which can easily be enjoyed at the end of a long day. Its full body and rich fruit, spice, and herbal flavors pair well with hearty meals. And the high alcohol helps cut through fat. Thus, crack open this bottle for greasy meals, like rack of lamb, grilled New York steaks, beef or pork ribs, or traditional spaghetti and meatballs.
How to Get It
Bottle Price: $36 (discounts for wine club & 12+ bottles)
Cases Produced: 163 cases
Have you tried the Oak Mountain 2016 Cabernet Franc? How did the tasting notes compare with your experience? Leave a comment below.