A Wine Spectator writer spoke with North Fork winemakers Richard Olsen-Harbich and Gilles Martin about cabernet franc in a recent column suggesting the sometimes herbaceous varietal’s time is coming.
“Reader, the excitement is palpable and the smell of pepper-bramble-tobacco-olive is in the air,” Wine Spectator Magazine’s Ben O’Donnell wrote in the column titled “Cabernet franc’s Time,” which was published online on Feb. 12.
“The elegance and the finesse of the wine versus the power,” Martin told the magazine of the grape’s strengths. “That’s a wine that you can have with fish, as you do with Pinot.”
Martin went as far to say that it could have been Long Island’s signature varietal, now widely considered to be merlot, had vintners known more about in the region’s early days.
“I think if people had known more about Cabernet Franc before they started out, this would have been the first variety planted on Long Island,” he said.
Olsen-Harbich, who is winemaker at Bedell Cellars, said cabernet franc can mirror some qualities of pinot noir, which does not grow consistently well on Long Island.
“We’ve seen Cabernet Franc can be a lot like Pinot in the clonal selections, and that matching the clone to the area can be very important,” he said.
That cabernet franc’s profile is on the rise should not come as news to anyone who follows the Long Island wine industry. Still, it appears the grape’s profile is on the rise.
“Cabernet Franc unites francophiles, terroir snobs, locavores, ‘balance’ freaks and plant geeks,” O’Donnell wrote. “It is complex and distinctive and often wonderful. Cabernet Franc is the wine for our moment.”