With modern winemaking technology what it is today, it’s rare that I taste a flat-out awful wine these days. Flaws can be avoided, or fixed, now today more than ever.
Taste and personal preference are what drive our decisions these days. A barrel-fermented chardonnay that was then aged in new American oak barrels for 24 months might be expertly made and technically clean — but that doesn’t mean it’s a wine we actually like.
What does this have to do with our wine of the week, Red Hook Winery 2014 “Macari Vineyard” Cabernet Franc ($32)?
Red Hook Winery, located on the water in, you guessed it, Red Hook, Brooklyn, is one winery with three winemakers. If you know California wine, two of those winemakers have names you might know — Robert Foley and Abe Schoener. Both are well-regarded for their winemaking talent, though in diametrically opposing styles. Read my column in next week’s Suffolk Times for more on that.
The third winemaker at Red Hook Winery, Christopher Nicolson, is the only one who is on-site at the winery throughout the year. He ensures that Foley and Schoener’s protocols are enacted and communicates with them regularly on the progress their wines make. He also makes some wines of his own, like this stunner of a cabernet franc.
I have long liked the bright, lithe nature of the cabernet franc grown at Macari and Nicholson captures this expertly.
“In short, I hoped to make a cabernet franc in a delicate style,” he told me in an email that also lauded the Macari family’s vineyard management.
This is a lighter-bodied, Loire-style cabernet franc with lovely floral and faint herbal notes. Bright and fresh, it’s fruity but not jammy with nice savory notes around the edges. It was made with 20 percent whole clusters, which adds a bit of complexity and woodsy spice even though the wine only spent 10 months in oak barrels before being bottled.
I bought a handful of bottles before I left and drank one with my wife as soon as I got home.
When I asked Nicolson what he likes to eat with this wine, he mentioned roasted lamb first, but then roasted monkfish tails, adding “Straight to the Southhold Fish Market!”