Raphael 2015 Cabernet franc is our Wine of the Week

Raphael 2015 Cabernet Franc. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

This time of year it’s always great to have an armory of barbecue red red wines at one’s disposal — bottles that are fruity, not too complicated and most definitely affordable. Opinions vary on the “best” wines for food hot off the grill, but drinking what tastes good to you matters more than anything any so-called expert says. Even this one.

Our “Wine of the Week,” Raphael 2015 Cabernet Franc ($23), is a good option if you like local cabernet franc in a silky smooth style.

Winemaker Anthony Nappa has spent much of his career here on the Island dedicated to making wines that remain true to the region’s terroir and letting the vintage’s conditions shine through.

“I find that the more you manipulate the wine the more you can taste the manipulation and dilute its authenticity and sense of place. The wine could be from anywhere and tastes more generic. That is fine for mass market huge brands which want consistency in the marketplace. But for us, we are trying to define a region and invent a style,” he said.

This cabernet franc is all raspberries and woodsy spice with subtle summer herb notes. It was made in both steel tanks and old, neutral oak barrels.

“Once you remove all additives other than your grapes, you start looking at everything you do differently and oak becomes just another additive,” Nappa said. “So, the question is why? How is oak affecting this wine, what is it contributing and what is it covering up?”

2015 was a warm year and you can taste it in the wine. The fruit is ripe and it’s on the softer side, especially for cabernet franc, which can be higher in acidity depending on season and when it’s picked. Again, the wine is true to vintage. And to Long Island.

“This wine style is not modeled after any other wine or region,” Nappa said. “This style is medium bodied, moderate alcohol, with balanced natural acid and tannin making it a great everyday drinking wine even in the summer or slightly chilled and definitely with food.”

Nappa recommends Italian food for this wine because “the unique herbal flavors we get from cabernet franc on Long Island accentuate that pairing.” Me, I’m still thinking barbecue.

This wine is available for $23 at the winery’s tasting room in Peconic.