Wednesday, October 28, 2009

TN: Bedford Thompson 2001 Cabernet Franc

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)

7 comments:

Jeff said...

I really like it when I get so sucked into a bottle that it lasts for three or four hours. Doesn't always happen, but I'm always pleasantly surprised when it does.

CabFrancoPhile said...

Yup, this was one of those. "Liquid cigar" is not for everyone, but it worked really well for my girlfriend and me.

Jeff said...

Been a long time since I had a real cigar...about 9 years. I vividly remember the last time I had one (on a rooftop in Rome with my friend Pete circa July 2000), and every time I get a wine that smells like that it makes me think of that cigar. Which, incidentally enough, was Cuban.

CabFrancoPhile said...

You know, I smoked a cigar maybe once. Same for cigarettes. Don't care for the smoke. Never was around much tobacco/smoking anyway. But the smell of tobacco is something special for me. The Amish near where I grew up would dry it in barns, so maybe that's where the appreciation originates.

Jeff said...

About the same for me...never been into smoking...I do have a lot of friends that smoke though. All it takes is one cigar where you inhale the entire thing, and getting sick, to turn you off. Interesting about the Amish and tobacco. I think the Amish are fascinating. In a way, I'm jealous of the life style. It seems like being Amish would be pleasurably simple. And of course, I think Rumspringa is a relatively progressive parenting technique. My parents would have never let me do that...

Kieron Galliard said...

I dropped in at the Bedford Thompson tasting room in 2007 on the recommendation of another winery. I loved the wines, and the guy there gave me (he refused payment) a bottle of the 1999 Cab Fr. It was drunk in late 2008, and was superb, with plenty of fresh fruit character left. I'm sorry to hear there will be no more.

Anonymous said...

Stephan Bedford still has cases of both 2000 and 2001, though he's blowing them out at drink-it-everyday prices. And it's gorgeous. I think the 2000 is a bit more elegant and restrained; the 2001 is a bit more out-going and approachable. They may be peaking now, but they won't fade quickly. Don't wait too long - at some point soon it'll be gone. And give it a few days rest after the journey to your cellar - it gets a little shock from even a trip across town, but recovers in 2-3 days.

-a member of his fan club