The Bedford Thompson 2001 Cabernet Franc is a rarity in quite a few ways. It's the current release of Bedford Winery despite being 8 years past vintage and is labeled at 13.8% alcohol. These are remarkable numbers in California where boutique wineries churn out new vintages 18 months or less after harvest with ABVs regularly above 15%. Furthermore, since winemaker Stephen Bedford is no longer associated with Thompson Vineyard (located in Los Alamos between Santa Ynez and Santa Maria on the map to the left), there won't be much more of his Thompson Vineyard Cab Franc, though I don't know for sure what will be his final vintage. Thompson Vineyard in fact has yanked all of its Cabernet Franc due to poor yields, so there will be no more Thomson Vineyard Franc from anyone at a certain point.
On to the wine itself: this is a delicious tobacco bomb! The nose exudes cigar box aromas, and the finish is layered with tobacco as well. The bouquet also shows dried fruit like prunes and dried brush like sage. In a young wine dried fruit is a sign of over ripeness, but in an older wine like this, it's more likely the evolution of the wine's fruit providing this profile. Certainly the flavors aren't pruney; in fact, the fruit is subtle and earthy flavors are more prominent. Hearty tannins are also evident, but clearly have softened to the point they are complementary. According to a local wine shop owner, Bedford's wines were extremely tannic in their youth. I'd figure this wine has reached a nice point for drinking in the near term.
Unlike nearly all California wine, this is an amazing QPR at $24 from the winery given its age and quality. While I usually like a bit more fleshy fresh fruit on the mid-palate, this wine is exactly what it should be. There's tobacco from the varietal expression, and port-like notes due to the age. We shared a bottle over 3 or 4 hours, meaning it was something to be savored bit by bit. No point score can quantify incremental enjoyment of this sort.
Pros: Intense Tobacco & Cigar Box, Aged Port-like Aromas, Balanced Acidity & Alcohol, Earthy, Long Finish, Mature Tannins
Cons: Slightly Hollow Mid-palate
Decant: Yes, more fruit emerges with air
Price: $24 from Bedford Winery
QPR: Excellent (out of Poor, Mediocre, Fair, Good or Excellent with Fair denoting expectations were met for the price point)