OK, reporting back on the MacCallum 2005 Cab Franc. In short, buy this wine. It's lip smackin' delicious.
My girlfriend and I shared this wine over dinner and the course of the evening. We decanted the wine, but poured a taste to try from the bottle to start
Context #1: Pop 'n' pour, t = 0 minutes
Bouquet: I could smell this all day! Crushed flower petals. Leather. Perfumey. Homey, earthy. Damp wood.
Palate: Delicious, almost seamless, gentle berry (as opposed to 'aggressive berry' you'd get from a big Zin or Shiraz), integrated oak, lovely finish.
Basically, this wine was ready to go from the moment the cork was popped. By the way, the capsule is wax, not foil, which adds a really nice touch letting you know this was made by hand from start to finish.
Context #2: With Burgers, t = 30 minutes
OK, we had leftovers. But they were home-burgers made with love--and rosemary, red pepper, onion and various seasonings. The wine description isn't different other than we've noted more dark berry, maybe black currant, flavor. The floral aromas are primary along with the leather and everything else is really secondary. This is a wine that's nicely balanced and stuffed enough to stand up to and complement a moderately seasoned dish without overpowering everything else on your plate. I would say it's more of a red meat than a chicken wine. Pork should work, too. Vegetarians, well, you're on your own.
Context #3: On its own, t = 50 minutes
The initial observations are still holding true at this point.
My girlfriend commented that the wine melts away on the finish like a fine Belgian chocolate. There's no heat and the tannins are present yet very soft and mouth coating. Nice roundness to the mid-palate. The acidity is well balanced and is just slightly mouth watering.
t = 70 minutes
This wine simply has a great mouth-feel, very smooth and elegant.
t = 150 minutes
Still have a half-glass remaining and the description is essentially constant. It is the same beautiful wine it was initially and isn't falling apart. Not much evolution, but it really didn't need to go anywhere given where it began. I could still smell this wine all day.
My final thoughts are that this wine is a steal at about $20. I'd probably grudgingly pay up to twice this price in a tasting room if I'd really enjoyed the experience at the winery. This Cab Franc has its share of stuffing, though it's more about finesse than power. I was a little worried about the high proportion of new oak, but the oak is seamlessly integrated. So there's no in your face vanilla, woodiness or astringent oak tannin to throw you off. There's only a sense of sweetness that's held in check by the acidity and tannin. I can't really comment on aging--I'd trust the MacCallum folks on that question--but this wine can definitely be consumed now without a long decant.
In relation to other Cab Francs, this has no overt herbaceousness. If you are a hard core Chinon fan and demand rustic edges, damp forests, veggie compost and pure muscle, this probably will not satisfy. This wine is polished, though not without character of its own. As far as Woot Cab Francs I've tasted, it's as good as the Iron Horse in my opinion, but it's a different approach to the varietal. I'd say the Iron Horse is more acidic, is more slanted towards red fruit like raspberries, and has a little more of a forest undertone than the MacCallum. Relative to the Yorkville Cab Franc, I prefer the MacCallum. The Yorkville in comparison is less structured and slightly flabby, albeit earthier in its aromas. Out of the three this wine has the heaviest oak accent. Accent is the right descriptor, though.
Bottom line, if you like Cab Franc and appreciate the diversity of wines it can produce, you're probably already sold. For those new or not yet sold on Cab Franc, this is your gateway wine. It's a Cab Franc that should please more than hard core Cab Franc fanatics (or Cab Francophiles). It really does seem a lot of attention to detail went into producing this wine.
: it's not just for blending! It's also for blogging.