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By Chuck Hill

Chuck Hill, wine reviewer and columnist

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(In the order of their
publication dates)

White Wines
for Seafood

A 5-Part Series
Published Aug & Sept 2016

Pinot Noir with
Copper River Salmon

A 4-Part Series
Published Jun & July 2016

Red Rhone Varietals
& Blends

A 4-Part Series
Published May & Jun 2016

Versatile Chardonnays
for Spring

A 4-Part Series
Published Mar & Apr 2016

Italian Varietals for 2016
A 4-Part Series
Published Jan & Feb 2016

Cabernet Sauvignon
and Blends

A 4-Part Series
Published Nov & Dec 2015

 Thanksgiving Wines
Published Nov 16, 2015

Meat My Merlot
A 4-Part Series
Published Oct & Nov 2015


Wines of the Week
...Earlier Columns


Chuck's Wine Reviews
of other Northwest Wines

Organized by varietal



















Wines of the Week

Published October 17, 2016

Bordeaux Buddies – Part 3
Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot
Part 3 of a 3-Part Series  (See Part 1)  (See Part 2)
By Chuck Hill

Cabernet Franc is most widely planted in the Loire region of France where it produces varietal red wines in Chinon, Bourgueil and other areas.  In Bordeaux, it is used exclusively in blends with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and the other varietals listed above.  New-world varietal versions of Cabernet Franc are found in the Pacific Northwest, California and Australia.  It is widely used as a blending grape. 

On its own, Cabernet Franc produces lighter wines than Cabernet Sauvignon although its aromas and flavors are similar.  Additionally, the wines often exhibit vegetal notes of green bell pepper and leafy herbs.  Peppery spiciness is not uncommon, nor are forward floral aromas of violets.  In the vineyard, the variety blooms earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon and ripens correspondingly sooner.  By the way, Cabernet Franc is the daddy of Cabernet Sauvignon (genetically), with mom being Sauvignon Blanc.

Petit Verdot is a late-ripening, inky dark grape whose origins are cloudy, but it probably came north to France with the Romans.  When fully ripened (which doesn’t happen every year in Bordeaux), it makes a deeply colored, tannic red wine that is often added to Bordeaux blends for color and to stiffen the mid palate.  It tends to be a magnet for oak-based aromas and flavors when aged in new barrels. 

Cabernet Franc

Tamarack Cellars
2014 Cabernet Franc
Wahluke Slope AVA

This 100% Cab Franc was crafted from 86% Weinbau Vineyard fruit and the remainder from Red Mountain.  It is a food-friendly, medium-bodied style showing rich blueberry fruit with notes of herbs, cocoa and toasty oak.  It was a favorite with my tasters and paired well with lamb from the grill. 

Spring Valley Vineyard
2013 Cabernet Franc
Walla Walla Valley AVA

This wine is named for Katherine Corkrum who emigrated to the Walla Walla Valley from Wales in 1897.  She married Uriah Corkrum and became the matriarch of a historic Walla Walla farming family that planted the Spring Valley Vineyard in 1993.  The wine is most like French Cab Franc as any in our tasting, offering cassis, dried herbs and hints of pepper and lilac. 

2014 Cabernet Franc, Champoux Vineyard
Horse Heaven HIlls AVA

The venerable Champoux Vineyard in Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills was planted in the 1970s and produces some of the state’s finest fruit.  Winemaker Peter Rosback makes big wines and pulled this component out of the blending pool because it spoke to him of place and style.  Rich dark fruits and a complex palate impressed the tasters and placed it near the top of the rankings. 


Cooper Wine Company
2013 Cabernet Franc
Red Mountain AVA

Neil Cooper founded his Red Mountain winery based on years of planning and hard work. This wine comes from his estate vineyard and offers classic Cab Franc aromas and flavors of herbs and olives, bell pepper and cassis. The wine has a complex profile and lean flavors that pair well with meats from the grill and other hearty meals. 

Columbia Winery
2013 Cabernet Franc
Horse Heaven Hills AVA

Columbia winemaker Sean Hails blended in some Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot to enhance the structure and color of this appealing Cab Franc.  Blackberry and cherry fruit are wrapped in spice and toast from aging in French and American oak, 27% new.  As the wine opens up it reveals dried herbs and green olive. 

2013 Cabernet Franc
Yakima Valley AVA

Owner Peggy Sullivan created this tier of wines for her O-S Winery, naming it for the Gaelic word for happiness.  The wine was crafted by consulting winemaker Scott Greer of Sheridan Vineyards, which was the source of the fruit for the wine.  Bell pepper, earthy mineral and vanilla greet the nose, and the palate bursts with juicy blackberry, cherry and peppery spice. 

Balboa Winery
2013 Cabernet Franc
Walla Walla Valley AVA

Grapes from Summit View Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley were used by winemaker/owner Tom Glase to craft this tempting Cab Franc. The wine reveals its fruity style with blackberry and cherry mingling with sweet tobacco, cocoa and toasty oak. Serve with meats from the grill or pasta with hearty sauces. 

DiStefano Winery
2012 Cabernet Franc – Sogno
Columbia Valley AVA

“Sogno” means dream in Italian, a name the winery feels suits this dreamy Cabernet Franc blend.  Ten percent each of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon flesh out the herb and bell pepper character with ripe cherry and raspberry, finishing with notes of toasty oak and caramel. 

Ginkgo Forest Winery
2013 Cabernet Franc, Estate
Wahluke Slope AVA

This wine comes from grower/owner/winemaker Mike Thiede’s estate vineyards on Washington's Wahluke Slope growing area.  Look for ripe blueberry and vanilla with spicy oak and hints of dried herbs and floral notes. 

Petit Verdot

B Leighton
2012 Petit Verdot, Olsen Brothers Vineyard
Yakima Valley AVA

Washington winemaker Brennon Leighton created B. Leighton Wines to showcase fruit from the crest of Olsen Hills in the Yakima Valley.  The first vintage, 2012, was a collection of wines that included a Petit Verdot, Grenache and Syrah.  This inky Petit Verdot shows cassis and black plums with notes of violets and toasty oak from French oak aging – 50% new oak. 

Tamarack Cellars
2013 Petit Verdot, Dionysus Vineyard
Columbia Valley AVA

This is only the third time that Tamarack Cellars has crafted a 100% Petit Verdot, this one from the famed Dionysus Vineyard along the Columbia River north of Pasco.  French oak corrals rich huckleberry and cherry flavors and adds notes of caramel and spice to the finish of this tasty wine. 

Amelia Wynn
2013 Petit Verdot
Columbia Valley AVA

Owner/winemaker Paul Bianchi used fruit from the Stillwater Creek Vineyard on Washington’s Royal Slope to craft his elegant Petit Verdot.  The complex wine features cherry, blueberry and herbs with just enough oak to give structure to the palate and intrigue to the finish – great with meats for fall dining. 


2013 Malbec, Barrel Select, Estate
Umpqua Valley AVA

Abacela winery and estate Fault Line Vineyard is just south of Roseburg, Oregon in the Umpqua Valley AVA.  Winemaker Andrew Wenzl has been working Abacela wines since 2003 and has been head winemaker since 2008.  This wine from the best barrels of Malbec features blackberry and black currant with complex notes of dark chocolate, toasty oak and lavender. 

College Cellars
2013 Malbec
Walla Walla Valley AVA

The Center for Enology and Viticulture at Walla Walla Community College is the source for wines that are released under the College Cellars label.  Student winemakers craft the wines from start to finish and the resulting wines compete in the marketplace at very attractive prices.  The 2013 Malbec offers juicy berry fruit, dried herbs and floral notes on both the nose and palate – a very accommodating food wine! 

Nine Hats
2014 Malbec
Wahluke Slope AVA

The inspiration for Nine Hats came from the nine internationally acclaimed winemakers who contribute their time and talents to develop the wines of Long Shadows Vintners.  This Malbec came from the Weinbau Vineyard on Washington’s Wahluke Slope and offers rich aromas and flavors of dark berry and cherry with spice and toasty oak. 

Ded. Reckoning
2012 Malbec
Columbia Valley AVA

Compass Wines head honchos Doug Charles and Will Parks adopted the pirate theme when they started their Ded. Reckoning wine brand more than a decade ago.  Each wine is crafted by a Washington winemaker utilizing fruit from some of the State’s finest vineyards.  The 2012 Malbec was made by Sean Boyd and offers ripe dark fruits, blackberry, toasty oak and a finish with hints of tobacco and caramel. 


College Cellars
2014 Carmenere
Walla Walla Valley AVA

College Cellars Carmenere grapes come from the estate Clarke Vineyard, named for the late Stan Clarke, one of the early organizers of the school’s program.  This vintage was aged in an American oak puncheon and offers bright cherry and berry fruit with earthy mineral and a round mouthfeel and finish. 


Wines from other areas:

Saget La Perriere
2014 Chinon, Marie de Beauregard

This wine was hailed as the best of the Cabernet Franc bottlings at my recent tasting.  Hundreds of years of grape growing and winemaking give the French a distinct advantage in creating wines from local varieties.  This wine scored high marks for complexity and food pairing, showing red fruits, earthy mineral, lilac and lavender and dried herbs – a classic. 

Crios by Susana Balbo
2014 Malbec
Mendoza, Argentina

Susana Balbo became the first female enologist in Argentina after graduating with honors from Don Boxco University in Mendoza in 1981.  She has been an innovator in the industry and has championed using concrete “eggs” wine tanks, something that is now catching on in America.  This “cutting edge” Malbec offers black cherries, oak spice and violets, and is a great pairing with meats from the grill or hearty pastas and stews. 

Susana Balbo
2013 Malbec, Late Harvest
$28.00 (500ml)

This unique Malbec wine is crafted from hand-harvested grapes from vineyards at an average elevation of over 3,000 feet.  Extra-ripe fruit produced a rich wine with an alcohol of just over 15%.  The wine is aged in 100% new French oak and offers ripe black cherry, baking spices, dark chocolate and hints of fresh herbs.


To find contact information for most of the wineries in the above column,
visit our alphabetical list of Northwest States and their Wineries.

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©  October, 2016  Chuck Hill
All rights reserved.  Last revised: 10/17/2016