Monday, November 2, 2009

TN: Buttonwood 2002 Cabernet Franc

The Buttonwood 2002 Cabernet Franc is 100% varietal Cabernet Franc, labeled at 13.6% ABV. Sounds like a nice combo in theory, and it also works out well in practice. Buttonwood is a Santa Ynez producer primarily of Bordeaux varietals, and what makes them interesting is a unique attractively rustic "house style" combined with the majority of wines priced at under $20. Their reds receive extended aging in older barrels, which imparts a character to their wines that most producers with their 18 months in 50% new oak sort of regimes don't achieve. I think they do lose some varietal character due to their "house style," but the wines are nonetheless individualistic.

This wine opened up with the "Buttonwood funk" as I call it based on tasting a variety of their wines. I'm guessing it's some form of Brett or microbially produced aroma, but it's definitely not your garden variety barnyard smell. Once the wine opened up herbs and currants were also noticeable, but the house style funk remained most prominent. Middle-weight blackberry flavors backed by appropriate acidity showed on the palate. What I liked most, though, were the coffee and earth flavors on the lingering finish and the copious, mature tannins. This is not an overly complex or elegant wine, but it's true to itself and its age has rounded off a few of the rustic edges.

I purchased this wine as part of a vertical including the 2001, 2002 and 2003 vintages for $14 per bottle. This was my favorite bottle of the three, and taken individually or together they represent a great value. The only caveat is that they're bottled with synthetic corks, and I know these aren't good for long-term aging. Buttonwood expects you to drink their wines on release, basically.

Pros: Rustic House Style, Pleasingly Bitter Finish, Mature Tannins
Cons: Not Complex
Decant: Yes, develops with air
Price: $14 from Buttonwood Winery
QPR: Excellent (out of Poor, Mediocre, Fair, Good or Excellent with Fair denoting expectations were met for the price point)

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