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90+ point rated wines under $20











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2005 Halter Ranch Winery Cabernet Franc***
HalterRanchCF.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Paso Robles, CA $28 @ The Winery 9/2/10
(90% Cab Franc with 10% Malbec) A medium/deep, ruby/magenta colored wine with a moderate nose of black fruit, plum and herbs with notes of sweet spice and licorice. Initially still very tight we aerated the wine to open the palate, which is full-bodied with dusty fine tannins and medium acidity. The flavors mirror the nose with black cherry, blackcurrant and plum balanced by hints of oak and herbs on the medium-length finish. The wine was aged for 18 months in French oak (40% new), which gives it a solid structure and noticeable finesse despite its 15% abv. It's still way too young. Needs at least another year in the bottle to be best enjoyed. If you still have a bottle I'd decant for a few hours. Solid QPR.

2005 Les Hauts Lastour Coteaux du Quercy**
lastourCF.jpg Region Price Tasted Date
Cahors, France $10 @ Colorado Wine Co. 4/19/09
A medium, garnet-colored wine with a bright nose of red fruit, earth and licorice with a hint of herbs. A medium-bodied, soft and surprisingly ripe wine (for a French Cab Franc) with strawberry and plum flavors along with notes of white pepper, earth and a hint of green pepper and minerals on the lingering finish. A well-crafted wine that was quite intense and delicious without food, which is not easy to find in French versions of this varietal, especially for the price. A wine to seek out.

2005 McKeon-Phillips Winery Reserve Cabernet Franc**
McKeonPhillipsCF.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $42 @ the Winery 8/12/10
A deep, ruby-colored wine with a moderate nose of black fruit, blackcurrent leaf, herbs and smoke. The palate was full-bodied and round with fully integrated tannins and medium acidity. The flavors were of blackcurrent leaf, blackberry and black cherry with notes of mocha, vanilla and oak on the medium-length finish. A well-constructed wine that showed elegance and finesse, as well as strong varietal character, if not exactly the depth one would expect from the price. Could still age for several years, though I don't think it will be getting much better. (14.6% abv)

2004 Cass Winery Cabernet Franc***
04cassCF.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Paso Robles, CA $36 @ The Winery 11/28/09
A deep, ruby/purple colored wine with aromas of black fruit, cherry, minerals and hints of lead pencil and coffee. The palate is full-bodied with firm tannins (even after aerating), low acidity and fruit flavors of blackberry, plum and black cherry with hints of lead and mocha on the dusty, medium finish. This is a big wine that could use another year or two to fully integrate the tannins. Thought five years would be enough. A full throttle version of this varietal that's complex and intense. Wish I had another bottle to sit on and see what happens. (300 cases/14.9%)

2003 Beckmen Vineyards Cabernet Franc***
pmv_cab_sauv.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $30 @ the Winery 3/27/08
A full-bodied, deeply-colored ruby wine with subtle aromas of blackberry and green herbs along with hints of vanilla and licorice. Even though the winery's website said to drink it 2 years ago (whoops), the palate was still tight with plenty of tannic and acid to balance the ripe black fruit and tobacco flavors. In fact, I think it could have gone at least another year. A full-flavored and intriguing version of this varietal. It's too bad this vintage was Beckmen's last 100% bottling of Cab Franc because they were really on to something.

2003 Buttonwood Farm Winery Cabernet Franc**
buttonwoodCF.jpg Region Price Tasted Date
Santa Barbara County, CA $18 @ the Winery 11/25/07
Aromas of dark chocolate and cherry add depth and complexity to classic herbal "franc" aromas. Ripe raspberry flavors follow on the palate before resolving in a dusky, smoky finish. A decent example of the varietal, but a bit too rustic and uneven to entice me to buy a bottle.

2003 Rio Seco Winery Cabernet Franc***
rioseco.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $24 @ the Winery 1/12/08
A medium-bodied ruby-colored wine with distinct aromas of bacon, black fruits and tar that overwhelmed the palate on the first night it was opened. Two days later it was like drinking a completely different wine. All dark fruits on the nose and palate with smoke and vanilla flavors and hints of chocolate, licorice and bacon on the lingering finish. Once all the flavors integrated it was just lovely. Either decant this wine at least an hour ahead or give it a minimum of 6 months more in the bottle. This wine was just released in Fall 07, so it has plenty of time to continue evolving.

Retasted 1/6/09: Popped and poured. Still needs time with the licorice really dominating the wine. Since it was drunk pretty quickly, I can only assume the previous notes are still accurate. Should have aerated it.

2002 Rio Seco Winery Cabernet Franc***
rioseco.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $24 @ the Winery 4/8/08
A medium-bodied ruby-colored wine with well-developed aromas of blackberry and earth with notes of mint and a hint of stewed fruit. The palate is full of black fruit flavors with notes of minerals, pepper, coffee, smoke, licorice and raisin. The medium length finish is dusty and the tannins are soft. I had another bottle of this about 6 months ago and thought it was on its' way out. Found this one in the back of my fridge. It's actually still evolving and flavorful just in completely different ways. I wouldn't wait too much longer though.

2001 Bedford Thompson Winery Cabernet Franc***
cabfranc_00.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara County, CA $24 @ the Winery 11/28/07
The wine is intense with immense fruit reminiscent of ripe blackberries, blueberries and spice supported by toasty vanilla, vegetal and cedar notes. It has a supple, full body and a rich, lingering, elegant finish. This wine is drinking perfectly now, but is starting to show it's age. Drink within the next 6 mos. Retasted 9/21/08: As a whole this is still a lovely wine, but it is definitely on its' way out with the finish losing some length and finesse. Don't wait too much longer to enjoy this bottle.

2000 Bedford Thompson Winery Cabernet Franc**
cabfranc_00.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara County, CA $24 @ the Winery 12/12/08
The wine is intense with immense fruit reminiscent of ripe blackberries, blueberries and spice supported by toasty vanilla, vegetal and cedar notes. It has a supple, full body and a rich, lingering, elegant finish. This wine is drinking perfectly now, but is starting to show it's age.

1998 Stolpman Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Franc****

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available
Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $62 @ the Winery 8/22/10
A medium-deep, still vibrant ruby, showing no signs of age. The nose is filled with aromas of black fruit, plum, herbs and a hint of oak. The palate was medium-full-bodied with well-balanced acidity and finely integrated tannins. The flavors were of blackcurrant, black cherry and plum with notes of tar, herbs and cedar on the lingering finish. Only 80 cases were produced of this wine and after tasting it it's a shame Stolpman stopped producing it after this vintage. Have never had a 12-year-old wine that still had so much fruit and intensity. It could easily go another 5 years. Of all the wines tasted that day, this is the one that impressed me the most. The flavors were distict, yet seemlessly united.




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