Notes From the Winemaker - January 12th, 2012


As you probably will shortly hear through the media, our Cabernet Franc has just drawn an exceptional award from the largest American wine competition on the calendar, and I wish you to receive this news from me, personally, as thanks for your very loyal support of our work with this beautiful wine grape. 

The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition has just announced its medal winners for 2012, and has awarded Best In Class to Barboursville Vineyards for the 2008 Cabernet Franc Reserve. Defeating 97 other entrants in Cabernet Franc, from California, Washington, New York, and also Virginia, the 2008 Cabernet Franc Reserve had previously won Gold Medals at the Virginia Monticello Cup competition, The Beverage Testing Institute of Chicago, and the Sommeliers' International competition in San Diego. 

Cabernet Franc has long been prized in French winemaking, for its blending with other varietals that have acquired more fame - Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, even Petit Verdot - because of their widespread growth in other regions, for bottling in their own name. At Barboursville, for more than 20 years we have been cultivating and crafting wines of the same autonomous stature in Cabernet Franc - beautiful, food-friendly, and vigorously age-worthy wines which need no blending. And so it is, as you know: unlike the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, Cabernet Franc shows a brighter red color - the French poet, Rabelais, grew it as his "little raspberries" - a more discernible, palate-friendly acidity than the Merlot with which it is often confused, and voluminous, vigorous but suaver tannins than "the other Cabernet" or Petit Verdot and Malbec. The centerpiece of the greatest wines of St-Émilion, Cabernet Franc's age-worthiness is matched, very beguilingly, by elegance and drinkability significantly earlier than its Bordeaux cousins, with food-pairing versatility beyond the scope of any of them. 

Our commitment to this varietal has been pursued in more total acreage and greater clonal diversification (5), than at any other vineyard in the Eastern United States, and also draws upon our founder's seven generations of experience with the grape in the northeastern growing region of Friuli. At Barboursville, Cabernet Franc promptly established itself as the leading blending varietal in our Merlot-based Octagon, the accepted standard for Bordeaux blends from the region. The Virginia Governor's Cup trophy for the 1997 vintage of Cabernet Franc, began to attract international attention to our success with the varietal. Four years later, Michael Broadbent's discovery of our Cabernet Franc in his 308th Tasting Note for Decanter, which praised the Octagon blend for presenting everything he expects of a fine St-Émilion, intensified worldwide interest even further, and has been echoed very widely since. Today, vintages of Cabernet Franc Reserve and Octagon are represented on wine lists from London to Washington DC, from New York to Chicago, and have been selected by this region's most distinguished restaurant, The Inn at Little Washington, for private bottling under its own label. 

Your continuing acceptance of our work with Cabernet Franc has been the primary driver of many other wineries' investments in Virginia for the production of first-class, age-worthy red wines of Bordeaux inspiration. This latest recognition from the San Francisco Chronicle competition sustains years upon years of Gold Medals for our Cabernet Franc from wine juries in California, Chicago, and the Eastern United States, and again underscores the central importance of this varietal in regional viticulture. 

You may still find some 2008 vintage Cabernet Franc Reserve in your wine shop, but since November it has been superseded in deliveries to our distributor by the 2009 vintage, which we are equally happy to present. Now, we would like you to know that a supply of the 2008 vintage will be released tomorrow to our Tasting Room only, for purchase by any of you in visiting or by telephone while that supply lasts, but not at our on-line store. The price is $29.99 per bottle and there will need to be a limit of 6 bottles per purchaser. If you cannot plan to visit the Tasting Room, please give us a call at (540) 832-3824 to place your order. Also, on Tuesday evening, January 31st, one of Charlottesville's leading culinary destinations, Hamiltons' at First & Main will host a celebration dinner in honor of the Cabernet Franc Reserve 2008, where I hope to see you for a delightful evening. For reservations and information, please contact the restaurant, (434) 295-6649. 

I very warmly thank you for seeking the finest Cabernet Franc that can be made.


Sincerely ~