Producer: Lightwell Survey
Region: Shenandoah Valley AVA
Grapes: 90% cabernet franc, 4% syrah, 3% petit manseng and 3% riesling
ABV: 13.5%
Price: $30

Lightwell Survey 2017 "The Weird Ones Are Wolves" Cabernet Franc

91 points

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.

About Author

Lenn Thompson, a proud Pittsburgh, PA native, moved to Long Island more than a decade ago and quickly fell in love with the region’s dynamic and emerging wine community. A digital and content marketing and community professional by day, he founded in early 2004 to share his passion for the wines, beers and spirits of New York State. After running that site -- which became the premier source for independent New York wine commentary, reviews and news -- for 12 years, he launched in late 2016 to add the wines of Virginia, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Vermont and beyond to his beat. Lenn currently serves as the wine columnist for The Suffolk Times weekly newspaper and is the former editor of the Long Island Wine Gazette. He contributes or has contributed to publications like Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Beverage Media, Edible Brooklyn, Edible East End and Edible Hudson Valley. Lenn served on the board of directors for Drink Local Wine, and is the creator and founder of TasteCamp, an annual regional wine immersion conference for writers and trade. An admitted riesling and cabernet franc fanatic, he’s intensely passionate about eating local and the many local wine regions of America. Lenn lives in Miller Place, NY with his wife Nena, son Jackson, daughter Anna and their dog, Casey Lemieux Thompson.


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