The Alexander Valley Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Franc is a bit of a rarity in California; it's a mid-priced Cab Franc. AVV, located as one would expect in the Alexander Valley AVA (pictured to the right of the neck of the bottle), is a fairly large independently owned producer, and they seem to be known as a reliable producer that offers good values. Maybe that qualifies AVV as the rough equivalent of an unclassified chateau in Bordeaux. I've tasted their Cabernet Sauvignon and definitely felt it was unexpectedly honest, elegant and complex wine for the price, albeit not the most structured Cab. Their Cab Franc also fits that bill pretty well.
The nose was pretty tight. Despite the low amplitude, the pitch was correct for a Franc: tobacco, cedar and currant with barrel influence in the background. The taste was even better with good freshness and an elegant, seamless quality to it. It was a medium bodied wine with moderate extraction, and it showed a pleasant chocolate-like bitterness and light dusty tannins on the finish. There was a certain juiciness to the wine giving it a more fruit-forward impression than its French cousins, but it nonetheless had decent balance and structure.
Looking at the wine's data sheet, AVV notes 14% ABV, 6 g/L TA and 3.53 pH. For a California Franc, those are great stats. Often California Francs tend towards very high alcohol and poor acidic structure, yet still show a lot of bell pepper aromas. This wine hits that sweet spot of medium acid, medium alcohol and moderate herbaceous nuance. Perhaps it's less aromatically complex and structured than a Chinon, but it seems a nice reflection of its own terroir. Certainly it's not over-oaked, over-extracted or over-manipulated like so many CA wines in this price range.
Pros: Balanced Earth and Fruit Expression, Fresh, Elegant, Medium Body
Cons: Tight Aromatics, Lacking Some Complexity
Decant: Yes, to open up aromas
QPR: Fair/Good (out of Poor, Mediocre, Fair, Good or Excellent with Fair denoting expectations were met for the price point)