Early Mountain Vineyards 2017 Shenandoah Springs Cabernet Franc

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.

Producer: Early Mountain Vineyards
Region: Shenandoah Valley AVA
Grapes: 100% cabernet franc
ABV: 14.6%
Price: $45*
Score: 92 points

* Review sample provided by the winery

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