Sunday, December 11, 2016

Painted Rock Cabernet Franc 2014

Since classic Bordeaux varietals were planted in the Okanagan after 1993, Cabernet Franc usually has lived in the shadow of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Arguably, its bright brambly flavours have been at the heart of many good Meritage blends.

In recent years, the variety’s profile has been on the rise, and for good reason. In the Okanagan, the variety performs better than Cabernet Sauvignon (unless the latter is grown on an exceptional site).

Painted Rock’s vineyard is one of those top sites. Located on a bench overlooking Skaha Lake, its west-facing slope benefits from the sun from mid-morning to late in the day. All the Bordeaux varieties do well there, as does Chardonnay and Syrah.

This post is limited just to the winery’s Cabernet Franc 2014, a recent release and a wine I would recommend if you want to give a special bottle to a wine-loving friend. Painted Rock wines are available in many private wine stores.

The first thing in its favour is the vintage, the best in the Okanagan since Bordeaux grapes were planted. That is not just my opinion. Anyone who has tasted the 2014 reds knows these are among the most balanced and elegant wines ever made here.

Here is how Painted Rock describes the vintage:

“The 2014 growing year was an exceptional one; the temperatures were hot but consistent, leading to well balanced and beautifully ripe fruit. September cooled nicely to slow the sugar development while the flavours and tannin continued to develop and the bright acidity was retained. This has gone down as a “textbook Okanagan vintage” and the first of which that Painted Rock has seen.

Painted Rock’s first vintage was 2007, not a bad year either. But nothing like 2014.

As an aside, the 2015 and 2016 vintages have also been very good. Leave room in your cellar for some wines from those vintages. But go heavy on the 2014 reds now while they are available.

Here is my note on the wine.

Painted Rock Cabernet Franc 2014 ($44.99 for 438 cases). This wine was aged 18 months in French oak (30% new). It begins with rich, intense aromas of smoky black cherry and vanilla. The oak subtly frames the flavours of plum, black currant, black cherry and coffee. The finish is long, with hints of dark fruit and chocolate. The ripe tannins still have some grip, suggesting the wine will age well for a decade. Decant it is you want to drink it now. 92.

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