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Tomasello Winery Atlantic County Cabernet Franc 2002
The Winery is perhaps best known, however, for the ”Tomasello Fruit Wine Portfolio”, a line of 100% naturally fermented fruit wines (Red Raspberry, Blackberry, Blueberry, Cranberry and Cherry) which are sold throughout the US and exported to a number of foreign countries. These wines are intense in their fruit character and are used as dessert wines, reduced in the sauté pan for entrée sauces, incorporated into baking recipes, in mixed drink concoctions and in kirs with sparkling wines.
An important winegrowing state increasingly recognized for its high-quality reds and whites, Washington is just below California in production numbers but lags behind Oregon in popularity. This has recently begun to change as Washington’s wines continue to garner high praise from critics and consumers alike. Winemakers draw inspiration from the Napa Valley, Bordeaux, and the Rhône, but because it is such a young industry, even the very best bottles are still relatively affordable. Most viticulture takes place on the eastern side of the state—an arid desert in the rain shadow of the Cascade mountains. Irrigation is made possible by the Columbia River. Temperatures are extreme, with hot and dry summers and cold winters, during which frost can be a risk.
Washington’s wine industry was initially built on Merlot, which remains an important variety to this day, despite being overtaken in acreage planted by Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Bordeaux blends and Rhône blends are common, and red wines in general tend to have ripe fruit balanced with earthy flavors and a leaner structure than most Californian equivalents. In terms of white wine, Riesling is the state’s major success story, producing crisp, aromatic examples with plenty of stone fruit that range from bone dry to lusciously sweet. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc perform nicely here as well, and Viognier is beginning to pick up steam.
The subtler and more delicate of the Cabernets, Cabernet Franc is the proud parent of Cabernet Sauvignon and shares many of the structural elements of Bordeaux’s cornerstone variety. In Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc is often planted as an insurance policy against its later-ripening offspring, as it is more likely to thrive in a difficult harvest. But don’t mistake Cabernet Franc for merely a supporting player—this grape variety produces outstanding wines on its own or as the dominant component of a blend. It produces perhaps its most alluring wines in France’s Loire Valley, in the regions of Chinon, Bourgueil, and Saumur-Champigny, where brighter, riper wines can be achieved. Outside of France, Cabernet Franc has performed quite well in parts of California, New York, and Virginia.
In the Glass
Paler, lighter, crisper, softer, and much more aromatic than its progeny, Cabernet Franc typically tastes of red raspberries, cherries, and herbs, with a stunning perfume of violets, tobacco, and spice.
Mouthwatering acidity makes Cabernet Franc an incredibly food-friendly wine, helping to cut through the richness of fatty meat dishes. It especially shines in tandem with lamb, and its affinity for the spice cabinet allows it to pair perfectly with Chinese dishes prepared with Szechuan pepper and five-spice.
Under-ripe Cabernet Franc can be leafy and green with harsh tannins and mouth-searing acidity, so it is best to avoid highly spiced curries and fiery chili dishes.