Monday, May 21, 2012

A Titanic Battle of 2008 Cabernet Francs......

The father-in-law is in town and that means I have to up my game with the food, wine and food & wine. Tonight's dinner was grilled tri-tip with garden-fresh broccoli (amazing!), couscous and garden-fresh chimichurri. Thinking the herbaceous chimichurri sauce would pair well with Cabernet Franc, I pulled one of mine and one that my father-in-law brought.

My contribution was the 2008 Dunning Vineyards Private Reserve Cabernet Franc, Paso Robles. Beautiful, impenetrable color hints at the wine's power and extraction. Wonderfully rustic notes of blackberry, licorice, sweet Provencal herb and a touch of roasted meat. Palate pretty much mimics the nose with huge tannins and nicely balanced acidity. Dusty finish goes on and on and on. A stunning example of Paso Robles Cabernet Franc. I can't remember what I paid for this, but I suspect it was around $30. I've been in Dunning's wine club for about 3 years now and this is the only bottle of this wine I've received so far. I really, really hope there is more forthcoming.

As delicious as the Dunning was, I have to say it was upstaged by the 2008 Justin Vineyards Justification, Paso Robles. This blend of 65% Cabernet Franc and 35% Merlot pours a light, uninspiring color. But the nose - oh, my god, the nose! The sugary blueberry cobbler brings to mind the heretofore incomparable 1994 Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon, perhaps the greatest wine I've ever had. Tremendous blue and black fruits on the palate with considerable licorice and thyme. Moderate tannins suggest this might not age quite as well as the Dunning, but both as drinking so well tonight that I wouldn't bother aging either one. Normally about $50, but purchased by my father-in-law for $19.99.

There were no losers on the table this evening. Had the Justin not been there, I would still be turning cartwheels at the awesomeness of the Dunning. But the Justification just took everything to another plane. Not that I've been in a rut or anything, but this was one of those nights that just reaffirms my passion for the grape.


  1. Bill, "I would still be turning cartwheels", some would say you've gone 'head-over-heels' for this pleasure, and I'm wondering about the word "inspiration" or should it just be exhilaration? $19.99 hey, well I see the Justin for closer to $50 and this is just pi@@ing me off (Pardon my Mexican), but yeah, what's that? ;-)

    1. My father-in-law bought the last 3 bottles of Justification on close-out from small retailer in Corpus Christi. He's been raiding the place for months now picking up deals like that. He bought 3 cases of splits of '07 Hugel Riesling for something like $2 apiece. He's become buds with the owner of this store and the owner calls him whenever he gets anything cool in like that on clearance. Apparently this store is the local distributor's "dumping ground" when it needs to get rid of an older vintage of something to make room for the next vintage.

  2. Funny, I just had the '08 Justification last weekend! And was lovely. Every time I think about maybe dropping our wine club membership, I either have one of Justin's wines or read someone's opinion of them, & I stay put. Justin doesn't mess around, & the Justification proves that fact. The Isosceles is still my favorite, but I love this wine, Savant, &, well, just about every other wine they make. Your father-in-law got one hell of a deal.

    Dunning was one of the wineries that didn't have any wine when we were there in January, or so we were told. I would've bought the Cab Franc. I know this because we ALWAYS buy Cab Francs if we get the chance. We love them.

    Oh, & the other thing I loved about this post -- Paso Robles!! How cool that you had a PR Cab Franc duel.

    1. I'm not sure how much Cab Franc Dunning bottles. I think most of it goes into their Meritage and Vin de Casa programs. I've been on Dunning's mailing list for 3 years now (6 shipments total) and that's the only bottle of Cabernet Franc I've received. Needless to say, it was tremendous. Certainly didn't have the herbaceousness that I get from their Vin de Casa. Makes me think they had one or two really good barrels of CF and decided to do a one-off bottling.

      When I saw my f-i-l had brought that Justification, I knew it was the perfect excuse for a Paso Cab Franc throw-down!

    2. Uh, yeah! I would've done the same thing. I've only opened up 1 bottle from our January trip (which wasn't Cab Franc), but I really need to get into those boxes that are still on our kitchen floor to see how much Cab Franc we did buy. And Petit Verdot.

      You know, with as good as Justification is, I have to wonder why Justin doesn't do a straight Cab Franc. Or a Merlot, for that matter. They certainly have an excellent variety - I get Syrah, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Tempranillo, Cab & Zin from club shipments.

      Speaking of Cab Franc, I've got a Palazzo (06, I think) that I need to open sometime...