Photo: Painted Rock's John Skinner
Now there is a new and stunning red wine from Painted Rock
Estate Winery: the winery released its first Cabernet Franc from the 2013
If there was ever a sign that Cabernet Franc is emerging in
the Okanagan from the shadow of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, this is it.
The 2014 B.C. Wine Grape Acreage report found that 546 acres
of Cabernet Franc were planted, compared with 756 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon
and 1,564 acres of Merlot.
Fine wines are made from the latter two varieties, with the
Painted Rock Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot good examples.
Cabernet Franc, for the most part, has vanished into
Meritage blends; and the blends are always the better for it.
But as a standalone wine - when I searched the list for one
VQA store, I found just five Cabernet Francs. I found another three Canadian
Cabernet Francs in the B.C. Liquor Stores catalogue and not many more at
I know there are more excellent Cabernet Francs out there
than that. If the new Painted Rock wine is an example, we need to have even more.
Cabernet Franc should suit the south Okanagan. It ripens a
week earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon. That was the rationale when producers
like Tinhorn Creek initially planted a significant acreage but little Cabernet
The only flaw in that rationale is that, in the blistering
Okanagan summer, Cabernet Franc shuts down earlier that Cabernet Sauvignon. The
vines are protecting themselves and saving water. By doing that, the vines stretch
out the ripening process -- until Franc is just as late as Sauvignon.
Presumably, there is a viticultural solution. Certainly, it
seems like Painted Rock’s John Skinner has it figured out.
But he also has a lot else figured out. These reds from the
2013 vintage all are excellent. They are bold and ripe, usually with alcohols
approaching 15% - but with no heat on the palate. The Red Icon 2013 may be one
of the best yet.
Here are notes.
Painted Rock Red Icon
2013 ($47.49). This is a blend of 33% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Franc, 21% Petit
Verdot, 12% Malbec and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was aged 18 months in
French oak (30% new). It begins with an inviting aroma of vanilla, black cherry
and chocolate. On the rich and full palate, there are flavours of black
currant, plum, dark chocolate and coffee. On the finish, there are notes of
cloves, pepper, vanilla and chocolate. The texture is elegantly polished. 94.
Painted Rock Cabernet
Franc 2013 ($44.99). This is a delicious wine. To bring out the best, one
should decant it and let it breath for an hour or two. That reveals classic
brambly aromas. The flavour palate is a riot of red fruit, including plum,
blackberry and cherry with a hint of chocolate and tobacco. The rich finish
includes notes of red plum jam. 92.
Painted Rock Cabernet
Sauvignon 2013 ($34.69). Dark in colour, the wine begins with aromas of
vanilla, black cherry and red fruit. The texture is full and polished, with
long ripe tannins. The wine has ripe flavours of black cherry, black currant
and plum. The sweet fruit flavours linger on the finish, along with hints of
tobacco and cedar. This is an elegant and sophisticated Cabernet Sauvignon.
Painted Rock Merlot
2013 ($34.69). Dark in colour, this brooding Merlot begins with aromas of plum, cassis and spice,
leading to flavours of cassis and blueberry. There is a hint of chocolate and
espresso on the finish. This is another wine that benefits from decanting, to
allow the concentrated texture to reveal the aromas and flavours. This wine
will blossom with five or more years of cellaring. 92
Painted Rock Syrah
2013 ($34.99). The aroma is ripe and inviting, with notes of plum, black
cherry and pepper. Svelte and polished in texture, the wine has flavours of red
fruit with hints of dark chocolate and black coffee. The pepper on the savoury
finish punctuates a delicious wine. 93.