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New England Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc is the up-and-coming wine for the northeastern part of the United States. In December 2000 we ran a tasting featuring three of the best: Sharpe Hill from Connecticut, Chamard from Connecticut, and Brimstone from New York. We tasted each wine initially in the Riedel Cab Franc (Bordeaux) glass, and then moved to testing them in other wine glass shapes.

We started with the 1996 Chamard Cab Franc, from Clinton CT. It had an alcohol aspect to it, but was fruity, with ripe berry flavors. Cherry stood out. We found it was "fat" in the middle, having a good mouth feel. $25

Sharpe Hill's Cab Franc has always been a favorite of ours, and this year was no exception. The 1998 was lighter than the 1997s we'd had before, and of course younger. It was peppery, fruity, with hints of cinnamon and wet leather in the aroma. A nice spicy finish, with a peaty aspect. Quite tasty. $18

The 1999 Brimstone Hill Cab Franc, a "local winery with a French touch", is created in Pine Bush, New York. It was much lighter and more watery than the other two, with a sharp, tannic flavor. We found that this wine mellowed quite a bit when tasted from a wider-mouthed glass. $15

We found it interesting that the same grape tastes vastly different depending on where it is grown and how the winemaker works with it. Of the three, we all enjoyed the Sharpe Hill the best, and found it to be by far the best value. Give them a try yourself, and see what you think!

Chamard Vineyards
Sharpe Hill Vineyards
Brimstone Hill Winery

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