03 Walla Walla Vintners, Cabernet Franc
If joy begets respect and respect love, then I love this wine. What begins as a playfully oak-driven, Napa-esque fruit bomb becomes a watermark on the sheets of cabernet franc. With a group of close friends, we all thought this was Napa cab--like all but one WWV wine, it's saturated with creamy, mint-chocolately, varietal-confusing oak--until we couldn't find any hint of dark fruit. What a diversion it is, ultraripe with the great leathery flavors of cabernet, but locked to brighter essences of cherry and syrah-like red fruit. It's confounding--seemingly over-oaked and hedonistic, but still remarkably layered. I've lauded several new Chinons for their ability to fit right into a blind tasting of Bordeaux and have none be the wiser. Try the Walla cab franc against great Napa cab and see if anyone flinches. Thank you, Drew.