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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Wine Review: Lieb Cellars Reserve 2013 Cabernet Franc

Lieb Cellars Reserve 2013 Cabernet Franc

Welcome back to New York! From Cape Cod, Massachusetts! This is the second part of a three part series of reviews for Lieb Cellars: Reserve 2014 Pinot BlancReserve 2013 Cabernet Franc and Reserve White Dessert Wine.

Lieb Cellars is located on the North Fork of Long Island, New York. It's a region that has found that its terroir is best suited for a vast selection of cool climate whites and Bordeaux varieties for reds. The winery was founded in 1992 but didn't release their reserve wines onto the market until 1999. In 2004 they came out with another label called Bridge Lane, a lower tier to their higher quality Lieb Cellars Reserve. Aussie Russell Hearn is the winery's winemaker.

I've been chomping at the bit to taste this wine. Cabernet Franc just makes me so happy. It's the smell. Nothing ignites my olfactory satisfaction like a good Cabernet Franc.

It has the same classy label design as the Pinot Blanc, which I understand wasn't the case until recently. The labels of past vintages for this winery look... not so great. I can't find much technical information about this Cab Franc, but according to the back label it has a 12.8% ABV, 0% residual sugar, and spent ten months in Hungarian oak. It has a screwcap, which is an interesting choice for a $40 bottle. I like it.

The nose is rather tight at first so I'm gonna hafta let it breath. Meanwhile, I'll raid the kitchen.


I'm back and wasn't happy at the least when I discovered that I ate all of the cracker cheese last night. I'm so inconsiderate of future me sometimes. I can be selfish. So I cooked up some mushrooms in a pan with a little sprinkle of feta. And it's AH-MAZING! Wish I had spinach to throw in there too.

Don't worry, I've got some crackers to cleanse the palate. I'm not a total heathen. Just mostly heathen.

Back to the wine! Oh yeah, there we go. Aromas of violets, vanilla and big, jammy raspberry have started to (I hate to use the term) burst out of the glass. A two ounce pour sitting there for about five minutes went from being closed up to extremely expressive and lively. The more you swirl and open it up further the earthier it gets. Wet wood and breakfast tea. And, this may turn some people off but some of my favorite wines have a touch of this, souring milk. Excellent.

The palate is complex as my wife's emotions. Flavors of blackberry, cranberry, candied strawberry, tea and nickel. The body weight is somewhat on the lighter side but it's not thin at all; it's bold and structured. The mouthfeel kinda messes with your head. It feels like it was trying to be smooth but at the same time you can feel the big tannin ripping apart at your tongue. It finishes with that tannin still going to work, drying you right out.

There's a lot going on here and I bet you this is one of those wines that gets even better in the next day or two. But I can't do that because I've got to get this review done tonight. So I'm going to pull out one of my Taste of Purple Vino2 glasses in an attempt to bring the wine together in harmony. It's specially designed to open wine up drastically through swirling. (And it works. Trust me.)

After doing some swirling in the Vino2 glass (and admittedly pouring it back into my smaller one) the nose is softer and less jammy. It's more like the gardeny Cabernet Franc aroma profile that makes my eyes roll to the back of my head, and I even get a little Fruit Roll-up. I love it. And the volatile ethanol is so much more free to give you that tingly feeling in the nose, which I also love.

The palate is smoother and cranberry has taken the driver's seat in flavor, but the others are still all there. The midpalate is silky smooth without big tannin underneath, while the finish is still hot with tannin but it's not tongue stripping. Acidity and mint has joined the finish too, where it was lacking before.

This wine has gone from having too much going on too loudly to having the same things going on but with more delicacy and elegance.

So I think you can guess that this wine is still young. Here's my suggestion on what to do with it: If you're into big, tough wine to go with your steak and potatoes just let it breath for a little bit and start drinking. It's a powerhouse of flavor and tannin. If you want a wine that you can nurse and sip and enjoy and feel like you're drinking a semi-expensive bottle of wine then you should decant it appropriately. Or you can let it sit a few years if you're patient.

As far as a rating goes: $40 is a lot of money for most people, including myself, to spend on a bottle of wine. Would I recommend this for somebody looking to drop that much money? No I wouldn't. I would only recommend it to people that understand and appreciate Cabernet Franc (or if they were looking for the perfect pairing like lamb). I wouldn't recommend it for somebody just looking to drop $40 on a red. But for us Cab Franc lovers it gets a 4 out of 5 for price vs. quality.

Price: $40
Rating: 4/5 = Recommended (what does that mean?)

The bottle used was supplied free of charge for the purpose of this unpaid review. To have your wine reviewed follow this link.

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