WHITHER BC CABERNET SAUVIGNON, MERLOT AND CABERNET FRANC?

After being so pleased to find what a great state BC Syrah and Pinot Noir are in during my recent Summer 2012 Wine Tour, it was disappointing to see that the classic red Bordeaux varietals — Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc – continue to really struggle.

Or at least that is the case for the Cali/Aussie style of fruit forward and dominant wines. Lots of wineries are making the more old world style — with more of a focus on herbs and wood — but most of these are so tannic it is hard to find any fruit in them at all. The ‘big red wine” problem continues…look for a future blog on this topic.

And the price? Well, don’t get me started…this is the area where BC has its biggest issues, with so many wineries making $40 and $50 wines that are, frankly, not worth the money. Another future blog on its own!

But on to the wineries — and wines — themselves. A warning, though — this isn’t going to be pretty!

1. Township 7 2008 Cabernet and Merlot

As readers know, T7 used to make my favourite BC Cab and Merlot. But after the 2006 vintage…well, definitely a change in style! Both of these 2008s are quite herbal and woody, with the Cab also really tannic. Not for me!

2. La Frenz 2010 Cabernet, Merlot and 2009 Total Reserve

Next stop La Frenz and my favourites! Both the 2010s are fruit forward and ripe, with lovely vanilla overtones. More cassis and mint in the Cab, and black plums/licorice in the Merlot. Just gorgeous, and below $30!

I didn’t taste the latest Total Reward, but this is a nice Bordeaux-style blend, way riper than those from France and although pricey (at $40), still lots less than most of its competitors.

3. Hillside 2009 Cabernet Franc and Mosaic

I like their Syrah, but the Cab Franc and Bordeaux blend are too herbal and/or tannic for me!

4. Nichol 2009 Cabernet-Syrah and 2010 Nine Mile Red

I’m a huge fan of Nichol’s Syrah and white Pinot Gris, but the other reds don’t really do it for me. Both blends are too herbal, woody and tannic in style (is this starting to sound familiar?).

5. Howling Bluff 2009 Cin Sera

The last vintage of this Bordeaux blend was way too tannic for me, but this one is better balanced. Still not as much fruit as I would like, although at $31 it beats many on price.

6. Painted Rock 2009 Merlot and Red Icon

What a disappointment Painted Rock was! Both the Merlot and` Red Icon were so tannic, I couldn’t find any fruit at all, and the prices…?? As a certain TV show would say…FUGGATABOUTIT!

9. Church and State 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

I loved Church and State’s Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah, but the Cabernet Sauvignon is too tannic for me.

10. Quinta Ferreira 2009 Cabernet Franc and 2008 Obra Prima

Don’t know what is going on here…all tannin, all the time, but where is the fruit?

11. Cassini Cellars 2010 Merlot

This winery is on its way to challenging La Frenz as best overall in BC. The 2010 Merlot is amazingly ripe and fruit forward, no oak, and at $19.99 a ridiculous value!

12. Moon Curser 2010 Merlot

Again, too much tannin in both the 2010 Merlot and 2010 Border Vines Bordeaux blend. The latter is a bit surprising, as I loved the 2009 and at $24.95 it was a great bargain.

13. Young and Wyse 2010 Merlot and 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

Same story at Young and Wyse with their ’10 Merlot and ’10 Cabernet. The Merlot has better fruit, but both are too tannic.

14. Burrowing Owl 2009 Cabernet and 2009 Cabernet Franc

While made in the Bordeaux style, both these wines are riper than most. But I’m not sure at $38 and $33 they are worth it. Stick to their best wine, the Syrah!

16. Eau Vivre 2009 Bhuddaful

Great name and surprisingly ripe Bordeaux style wine! The ’09 Bhuddaful is tannic, but has lots of ripe cherry and blackcurrant fruit to support it. And for $26, it is a real competitor!

17. Seven Stones 2008/09/10 Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon

Same as last year and same story – regardless of the varietal, these red wines are tannic, earthy, herbal and woody. Where’s the fruit?

That’s a lot of Bordeaux varietals…so what is the conclusion? Well, for that Cali/Aussie style of wine, La Frenz is still clearly the winner for their Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. And their Total Reward is the best Bordeaux style wine out there. But Cassini is challenging with their Merlot and watch out for Eau Vivre’s Bhuddaful.

But it doesn’t look good after that. Not sure if it is the winemaking, terroir or what, but it is hard to recommend Cabernet and Merlot wines from BC at this time. So aside from the ones above, stick to Syrah and Pinot Noir – you will fare better!

SB

http://www.sbwinesite.com

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