Producer: Early Mountain Vineyards
Region: Shenandoah Valley AVA
Grapes: 100% cabernet franc
ABV: 14.6%
Price: $45*

* Review sample provided by the winery

Early Mountain Vineyards 2017 Shenandoah Springs Cabernet Franc

92 points

Though most of Virginia's wineries are located further south, I'm increasingly enamored with the potential of the Shenandoah Valley AVA – particularly when it comes to cabernet franc. It wouldn't be hyperbole to say that this example from Early Mountain Vineyards is among the best Virginia cabernet franc I've ever tasted.

When first uncorked, the wine's nose offers aromas of black cherry, blackberry, black tea, and pencil lead. But, with a little patience and coaxing, notes of plum, blueberry, and minty herbs emerge.

Fuller bodied, the palate offer dense, almost brooding black and blue fruit that probably needs time in bottle to relax and unfurl. That fruit is ripe but doesn't turn jammy or heavy on the palate. The balance here is impressive, and it wears its ABV well. The tannins are ripe-but-powerful and still young – though I'd expect them to incorporate beautifully over time.

Savory, herbal edges step forward on days two through four open on the counter. If you can't hold your bottle(s) for a few years, you should decant it for at least an hour or two.

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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