2013 Cabernet Franc Wins Gold, Best of Show at 2016 Cascadia Wine Competition
A reflection on our journey with Cabernet Franc thus far; a lesson in sunshine.
Aeterna lux solis. Eternal sunshine or sunshine eternal. The Cabernet Franc grape requires eternal sunshine to grow and develop complex flavors. Complex Cabernet Franc wine brings sunshine eternal to those who covet the grape.
Just recently, our 4th vintage (2013 Cabernet Franc) earned a Gold, Best of Class distinction at the Cascadia Wine Competition. In their March 2016 article, “Top Wines from 2016 Cascadia Wine Competition,” Great Northwest Wine declares the award winning vintage “…a superb example of Cabernet Franc.” The magazine goes on to say, “…this winery is gaining a reputation as a top Rogue Valley producer.”
Now, it’s time to reflect for a moment, and thank the editors for recognizing this varietal and the quality of the fruit and wine that we are working toward producing from our estate vineyard. To be recognized is humbling, as there are many great producers here in southern Oregon. Still, we are doing our part to make wines that reflect the terroir of our cooler locale, in a warm region. A site with multiple microclimates and varying degrees of elevation and fruit orientation on our 26 acres of land.
Here’s a glimpse into the path that lead to our 2013 Cabernet Franc. Producing this wine required complex, detail oriented, hands-on involvement from selecting varietals to specific clones, to vineyard practices with early leaf-thinning and multiple passes to thin grapes at veraison and 80% color change. We worked with experts in the industry including Greg Jones, PhD, Randy Gold, Pacific Crest Vineyard Services, Marcus Buchanan from OSU extension, Martin Mochizuki, from Napa based Mochizuki and Associates, and heeded the advice of winemakers Linda Donovan, John Quinones, and Herb Quady – who is very familiar with the Cabernet Franc in our vineyard and is becoming known as an expert for this varietal. In the vineyard, we watch, we listen to the experts, we walk, we taste, we farm, we wait, we taste again, we harvest, and then we wait again.
Our first 2010 vintage Cabernet Franc won silver at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine awards. Future vintages continued to garner awards at the Chronicle, with our 2011 also earning the “Champion” title in SIP Magazine’s 2014 Best of the Northwest wine awards. In the industry, it means something to see your name listed next to Ledson and Quady North in wine competitions. The effort that goes into producing exceptional Cabernet Franc fruit results in some personal bias toward that from your own estate, so third party reviews validate that feeling of successful farming of this grape in southern Oregon.
Farming complex, full flavored fruit sometimes equates to taking risks. Allowing the fruit adequate hang time to develop. This was especially needed in the cooler 10 and 11 seasons. Sometimes we wait to harvest Cabernet Franc late into October or into early November. Several extra days of sunshine on the Cabernet Franc clones can make a significant difference in complex flavor development. So rather than harvest Cabernet Franc when the flavors are “nearly there” in early October, we wait. And in southern Oregon that often means the risk of rain and/or frost.
Despite longer hang-time, cooler evenings at our site allow the Cabernet Franc fruit to maintain its acid, allowing for a more balanced wine. As the tasting notes from Great Northwest Wine describe, “…aromas of mild oak, vanilla, and Bing cherry lead to flavors of dried herbs, blueberry and a hint of cocoa powder. Everything is backed by remarkable acidity and mild tannins – making this a classic example of Northwest Cabernet Franc.”
Beyond the reviews and most important for the Ledger David family, we love to share this wine and enjoy the reaction as we pour the 2013 Cabernet Franc in our tasting room. Sharing our Cabernet Franc with those who have a similar affinity as we do for this grape is rewarding on a daily basis. We love to share the sunshine.
Cheers, to Aeterna lux solis.
I’d be amiss if I didn’t note… a very small lot of 2013 Cabernet Franc Reserve is aging in the cellar as we speak. Our first reserve vintage. Wine Club members and those who purchased futures at our winter Vintner Dinner series got a sneak preview and a taste of the Sunshine to come.
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