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90+ point rated wines under $20

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2010 Breton Bourgueil "Trinch"**
Bretoncuvee-trinch-2010.jpg Region Price Tasted Date
Loire Valley, France $21 @ Domaine LA 1/22/12
The wines of Catherine and Pierre Breton are from organic grapes using biodynamic viticulture practices, native yeasts and low/no sulfur. This wine comes from 30-year-old vines located in the village of Restigné. Vinified in stainless steel it is a fairly light-bodied, magenta-colored red, made for easy sipping and early consumption. Without oak interference, the terrior of the fruit really shows through with notes of cherry, plum, earth, minerals, herbs and green pepper on both the nose and palate. Quite crisp acidity for a red which sort of makes up for the mild tannins. Not overly complex, but pleasant, interesting and quite varietally correct. (12.5% abv)

2009 Breton Bourgueil "Nuits d'Ivresse"**
Bretonnuit-d-ivresse.jpg Region Price Tasted Date
Loire Valley, France $29 @ Domaine LA 1/22/12
The wines of Catherine and Pierre Breton are from organic grapes, using biodynamic viticulture practices, native yeasts and in the case of this special cuvée no sulfur from vine to bottle. Made from 50-year-old vines from specific clay and limestone site in Bourgueil, then aged in barriques and bottled a year after the harvest. The wine was a clear, bright ruby color with a moderate nose of red fruit, cedar, green pepper, herbs and earth. Fairly light-bodied with medium acidity and flavors that mirrored the nose along with notes of graphite and cloves on the medium-length finish. Still quite young and tannic and a bit lean for my tastes. While this wine showed more complexity than the "Trinch" (see above) I preferred the mouthfeel of the younger wine. Definitely needs some time to come together. Or perhaps I don't "understand" natural wines.

2006 Lang & Reed Cabernet Franc**
langreedCF.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
North Coast, CA $20 K&L Wines 2/7/10
A medium-deep, ruby-colored wine with bright aromatics of black fruit, cherry, sweet spice and a hint of herbs. We popped and poured this wine, which took awhile to sort of develop more than bright fruit flavors. It's smooth and medium-bodied, starting out all blackberry and black cherry with some notes of vanilla and mocha. Then as it sat in the glass and got away from food, the leafy, chalky, herbal nature of the varietal took over and settled in with the ripe fruit and sweet spice. Well-structured with integrated tannins and medium acidity. Only aged for 8-9 months in neutral barrels, which really let the fruit speak for itself. Needed a bit more complexity and a longer finish to get three stars. The winery specializes in Cabernet Franc and the North Coast is their "drink now" bottling. Would definitely buy this again, as it showcases what the grape is all about without being so in your face green and vegetal which the ones from France generally are. Very good QPR and ready to drink though could still age a year or two. (14.5% abv)

2005 Anglim Winery Cabernet Franc, Paso Del Sol Vineyard***
05AnglimCF.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Paso Robles, CA $32 @ The Winery 1/11/11
This is the first release of this varietal from Anglim with 100% of the grapes coming from the south-west side of Paso. The wine is a medium, ruby/garnet color with a moderate nose of ripe cherry, blackcurrent leaf and cassis with notes of licorice and leather. The palate is medium-bodied with well-balanced acidity and well-integrated tannins. The flavors are of red cherry, blackraspberry, wet leaves with hints of cedar, licorice and mocha. It was quite tart and disjointed when first poured, but opened up beautifully once we aerated it rounding out the acidity and integrating the flavors into a smooth, classy experience. This wine has plenty of life left. If you have to crack it open, I would decant it for at least an hour. It was aged for 29 months in 100% French oak (75% new). It's rare to find stand alone Cab Francs that have this much depth of flavor and still taste varietally correct. Great QPR. (70 cases/14.8% abv)

2005 Cass Winery Cabernet Franc***
cassCabFranc.gif Region Price Purchased Date
Paso Robles, CA $42 @ The Winery 6/6/08
A deep, ruby/purple colored wine with subtle aromas of black fruit, herbs, minerals and hints of oak. The palate is full-bodied with firm tannins, low acidity and intense ripe fruit flavors (plum, black cherry) with hints of oak, lead and herbs on the big finish. Still a bit disjointed, this wine could use another 6 months to fully integrate. Bigger than many Cab Francs, but still shows the typicity of the varietal.

2005 Charles Joguet Chinon Cuvée Terroir**
joguetchinon.jpg Region Price Tasted Date
Loire Valley, France $18 @ Wine House 3/17/08
A deep, ruby colored wine with typical French Cab Franc aromas of red fruit, green vegetables, smoke and a strong minerality. The medium body and tannins make this almost ready to drink showing rich black cherry, toast, coffee and clay flavors that need a bit more time to unite fully on the palate. The finish and complexity are pretty good for the price and a bit more lushly flavorful than many French versions of this varietal. One to look for if you're interested in seeing what this region has to offer.

Retasted 9/8/08: Very vegetal this time around, though less tannic. Went better with food (Linguine with Goat Cheese and Arugula) which turned the asparugus/mineral flavors into bright berry fruit flavors with hints of smoke and pepper, complimenting the arugula and goat cheese. Quite a great pairing.

2005 Dark Star Cellars Cabernet Franc**
darkstar.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Paso Robles, CA $25 @ The Winery 12/27/08
This is the first Cab Franc from Dark Star which usually uses these grapes in their Ricordati blend. The wine is a dark ruby/purple color with a nose filled with black fruit, sweet spice and blackcurrant leaf. The palate is medium-bodied with good balance of tannin and acidity with black cherry, blackberry, earth and oak flavors with some minerality on the dusty finish. This wine doesn't show much typicity of the varietal, but is well-made if not overly complex. A good first try.

2005 Domaine Filliatreau Saumur Champigny La Grande Vignolle**
filliatreaucf.jpg Region Price Tasted Date
Loire Valley, France $17 @ K&L Wines 4/3/08
A medium-bodied ruby-colored wine with a vibrant nose of dusty black fruits with a hint of herbs that is typical of the region. The palate was a bit tannic and rustic, but still filled with enough blackberry fruit and spice to make the experience enjoyable. This wine could definitely use a bit more time to soften it's rough egdes, but it's a nice version for those interested in exploring how French Cab Francs taste. Especially if you don't care for the green pepper notes that usually accompany these wines.

2005 Domaine La Grange Tiphaine Béccare**
becarre.jpg Region Price Tasted Date
Loire Valley, France $18 @ K&L Wines 1/29/09
A medium-bodied, ruby colored wine with a nose filled with black fruit, earth, green pepper and hints of minerals. The palate is soft with good balance and acidity, low tannins and alcohol. The flavors are mostly vegetal with blackcurrant, black cherry, smoke and slate with a bit of black pepper on the finish. This is a classically-styled wine that really showcases its cool climate region. Its definitely less vegetal with food, but this is very differnet from New World versions. Much more earthy and dry. I liked it, the Man did not. You'll have to judge for yourself.

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**** Outstanding | *** Delicious | ** Enjoyable | * Drinkable
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