Wednesday, August 22, 2012
On our recent visit to Cape Cod (also see here) we shopped at Main Street Wine & Gourmet in Orleans. While there, I noticed a display of wines from Truro Vineyards, on the Cape. One of these was a Cabernet Franc. This is a grape varietal grown in Bordeaux (where it is often blended with the better known Cabernet Sauvignon as well as Merlot, and Petit Verdot to make the renowned wines of that region) and in the Loire Valley of France. Used alone, it produces wines that usually are more intensely flavorful, and so less subtle, than those made with Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals.
I'd recently had a Cab Franc from Long Island that I thought quite good, and reckoned that a grape that grows well in the cool climate and sandy soil of the North Fork might also succeed on the Cape. This, and the bottle's reasonable price, convinced me to give it a try. I took it to the roof of our building to open it and take my first taste, posing the bottle against the lower Manhattan skyline and the harbor. The label bears a reproduction of Lois Griffel's impressionist painting, Truro Lighthouse.
I poured a glass about a third full and let it sit for a minute to breathe. The color was a true ruby red. When I held it to my nose and sniffed, I had the impression of standing next to a cherry pie fresh from the oven. The fruit aroma was combined with a warm, toasty scent. My first taste seemed intensely tart. After leaving it in the glass for another minute and swirling it around a bit, I found the initial tartness mellowed, followed by a full-bodied cherry flavor ("Cherry without the cough syrup!" was my wife's later observation), and a slightly, but pleasantly, bitter finish.
I took the bottle downstairs and let the wine breathe some more before dinner, which featured one of my favorites of my wife's extensive culinary repertoire, beef stew Gaston. It's a recipe that can't be found, she said, in any post 1980 edition of Joy of Cooking, because it's not considered "modern." To her consternation, I always add some hot paprika, cayenne pepper, or Louisiana hot sauce. After more breathing, the wine had opened up gloriously, and easily stood up to savory, spicy stew.
I'm a fan of Alice Feiring and her love of subtle, nuanced wines, and not impressed by what Robert Parker calls "hedonistic fruit bombs." Truro's Cab Franc is "big" and has pronounced fruit flavor, but it's also complex and balanced. It goes well with flavorful food. I may have to try it with Thanksgiving turkey and cranberry sauce; this would be appropriate, as it comes from near where the Mayflower first dropped anchor in the New World.