To Be Franc, It’s A Rare, Winning Cabernet

November 29, 2006 3:52 PM0 comments

Unfortunately, some of America’s best wines are not easy to find.

Take, for example, Washington state’s Barrister 2004 cabernet franc ($25) which was Best of Show winner at the recent 28th annual Tri-Cities Wine Festival, in Pasco, Wash., in which some 200 Northwest wine entries from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia were judged.

Barrister is a superb red wine, made with Columbia Valley grapes.

But this "rich, full-flavored" cabernet franc, boosted with 25 percent cabernet sauvignon, from a small winery owned by two Spokane attorneys, totals a mere 495 cases, hardly enough for national distribution (some may be found in Seattle and Spokane restaurants and wine shops).

In fact most of Barrister’s 1,500-case 2006 production is sold at its winery at 1213 W. Railroad Ave., Spokane, Wash., or through its mailing list.

Incidentally, Barrister also received a gold medal for its 2003 Bacchus Vineyard cabernet sauvignon ($29). Contact Barrister at (509) 465-3591 or www.barristerwinery.com.

Best Of Class Winners: In addition to 20 gold medal winners, there were 10 notch-higher Best of Class awards given at the same festival.
And some of these were familiar labels like Columbia Crest and Domaine Ste. Michelle.

The former, which tied for Best of Class in the syrah competition for its 2004 reserve ($28) and is actually owned by Ste. Michelle, also picked up golds for its 2003 reserve cabernet sauvignon ($30) and its 2003 Walter Clore Private Reserve Red Wine ($35), obviously a blend.

Domaine Ste. Michelle is the widely distributed, very reasonably priced sparkling wine label, this particular winner the non-vintage blanc de noirs ($9 to $11).

Other major Best of Class awards went to Barnard Griffin for its 2004 reserve cabernet sauvignon, Basalt Cellars for its 2004 merlot, Hyatt Vineyards for its 2004 syrah (tied with Columbia Crest), Vin du Lac for its 2005 dry riesling and Saint Laurent for its 2005 chardonnay.
A red wine blend, the 2004 Uriah from Spring Valley Vineyard won in its class and Best of Class awards were picked up by Ste. Chapelle from Idaho for its 2005 reserve ice wine and Samson Estates for its non-vintage blackberry wine.

It was interesting that not one pinot noir entry was deemed good enough for a 2006 Best of Class or a gold medal. And ironically, last year the Tri-Cities Best of Show was an Oregon pinot noir.

Information: www.tricitieswinefestival.com; www.columbiacrest.com; www.stemichelle.com.

New Releases: This month Burgess Cellars, which only makes red wine, sends out its 2004 Napa Valley syrah ($22), following up the October release of its 2003 cabernet sauvignon ($30). Information: (707) 963-4766. … From Lockwood Vineyard comes its 2005 Block 7 Estate pinot noir ($20) from Monterey County’s San Lucas region. Information: (831) 642-9200 or www.lockwoodwine.com. … Also from Monterey County are three new wines from Chalone Vineyard, the 2004 merlot ($14), the 2005 chardonnay ($10) and the 2005 pinot noir ($14). Information: www.chalonevineyard.com. … Geyser Peak now has its four main varietals from its second label, Canyon Road, in release. Most recent release is the 2004 cabernet sauvignon ($9) which follows the 2004 merlot ($10), 2005 chardonnay ($9) and 2005 sauvignon blanc ($8). Information: www.canyonroadwinery.com. … HRM Rex Goliath, the fun wine brand named after a giant 47-pound rooster, has come up with a zinfandel ($9) made with zin grapes from various California regions plus small amounts of barbera, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, petite sirah, syrah, sangiovese and cabernet franc. Should go well with barbecued meats. Information: www.hrmrexgoliath.com. … The new Valley of the Moon 2003 Sonoma County cabernet sauvignon ($20) contains small percentages of merlot and petit verdot.

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