There is a winery in Paso Robles – Dracaena Wines – that we have been hearing about for the past year or so. Friends and fellow bloggers have posted about the winery’s Cabernet Franc and the reviews have been positively glowing. On more than one occasion we visited the Dracaena website and took a closer look at their story – and it’s a really cool one. For some reason, though, we never pulled the trigger and ordered any wine from them. Until last week, that is. We are not sure what happened on that particular day that compelled us to go to the Dracaena website (http://dracaenawines.com/) and order four bottles of the 2014 Cabernet Franc. Usually we buy a single bottle just to make sure that we like the wine before making a bigger commitment. However, at $32 a bottle (way below the Napa Valley average for any style of red wine) the value ratio was simply too high to purchase less than four.
Once the order was placed we sat back and waited for the wine and got very excited when the UPS tracking system alerted us the wine was scheduled for delivery that day. Of course, both of us were out when the UPS truck came and all we had to show for our patience was a sticker on the front door promising that they would come back the next day. Early evening the following day we were in the back yard and heard a truck coming up our secluded and dead-end street; at that time of day it could only be a delivery. Both of us raced from our seating area, flew out the back gate and intercepted the UPS man in our driveway: “Do you have something that requires a signature?” we asked him. When he confirmed that one of our packages did in fact require a signature we knew that our wine had arrived. It did not take us long to unpack the bottles and make the four lovely ladies feel at home.
We have read about people who, when their wine arrives, put it away and save it for some time in the distant future. We are not those people. Five minutes after rescuing the wine from the UPS box, we had popped the cork and poured the first two glasses. And the next night? Yes, we had more of the 2014 Dracaena Wines Cabernet Franc.
At the rate we are going we will run of the Dracaena Cab Franc before the end of this upcoming weekend! We will try to be disciplined enough to set aside a bottle or two to enjoy in the coming months – especially now that we have learned that the 2014 Cab Franc is sold out and the 2015 is just being bottled.
Most Americans consume Cabernet Franc not as the exclusive or even primary grape in a bottle of wine, but generally as a smaller percentage blended with Cabernet Sauvignon. A number of producers in the U.S., however, are making 100% Cab Franc (the 2015 Dracaena will be exclusively Cab Franc) or blends where Cab Franc is the majority grape. For an excellent primer on the grape that is in fact one of the “parents” of Cabernet Sauvignon read this article: Jancis Robinson on Cab Franc.
When we took our first sniff of the Dracaena Cabernet Franc, the aroma took us completely by surprise. Often, Cab Franc has a very strong vegetal aroma, in particular bell pepper; we have tasted several Cab Franc’s with people who were turned off by the bell pepper aroma and flavor. (If you want to know why wines have the aroma and flavor of bell pepper, read this easy-to-understand article: Why some wines taste like bell pepper). With its super-value price of $32, we were definitely anticipating that the Dracaena Cab Franc would come across a bit young, harsh, and definitely have the strong vegetal/bell pepper aroma and flavor.
We could not have been more wrong. The Dracaena Cab Franc was smooth, delicate, balanced, and sophisticated. For several minutes after pouring the wine into the glass we were stuck on the first step of the three-step wine tasting process (“sniff, swirl and sip”). We couldn’t seem to get past “sniff” because the Dracaena Cabernet Franc was so richly aromatic. On the nose, the wine resembled something you might expect from France, and this expectation was reinforced on the palate as well. The tannins were present but not overpowering and overall the wine balanced fruit and acidity very nicely.
We have some wines that we call “Tuesday night wines,” usually wines lower in cost and where a price-quality compromise has been considered. On the other end of the spectrum are our “going out wines”: those that are good enough to take to a fine restaurant and share with good friends. The 2014 Dracaena Cabernet Franc is a “going out” wine . . . but at a Tuesday night wine price. An American wine this good for $32.00 a bottle is an absolute find and an impressive addition to the roster of excellent Paso Robles wines.
Now that we know the 2014 Dracaena Cabernet Franc has sold out, we will try our best to hold out and not consume the last bottle until the 2015 release is in sight. With our shaky self-control, however, we may not make it!
John & Irene Ingersoll
May 24, 2017