Lightwell Survey 2017 "The Weird Ones Are Wolves" Cabernet Franc
East Coast cabernet franc can express itself in a wide array of ways. Some, particularly those made in the warmer climes of Virginia, can be big, burly even. Depending on the use of new oak, they can smell and taste very little like cabernet franc (though that's less common than it was even five years ago).
This beautifully intricate rendition of the grape from winemaker Ben Jordan is at the opposite end of the spectrum. Co-fermented with not only syrah but petit manseng and riesling, it turns up the aromatics and the juiciness while retaining all of the characteristics that make Shenandoah Valley AVA cabernet franc so compelling.
Red berry aromas – red cherry and raspberry – are made way more interesting by notes of peach, dried herbs, black pepper, and vanilla bean. There is even a floral note that seems to come and go as you enjoy a glass over a few hours.
Juicy, the medium-bodied palate shows a beautiful balance between ripe berry fruit, Damson plum, and more savory notes of dried herb and spice. The tannins are silky and mix nicely with a bit of fresh acidity.
After an hour or so in the glass, a unique – and delicious – peach skin quality peeks through on the palate along with some fresh blueberry.
At its best, cabernet franc is both fruity and savory. This wine deftly straddles that line.