In part one of my study of Roanoke Vineyards 2006 Gabby’s Cabernet Franc, I told you a little bit about how I got my hands on the sold out varietal. As some of you who read the post, you may have thought to your self, how did this Gabby’s Franc come to be and what makes this Cabernet Franc deserve someone’s name. With this post, I not only will give you my notes on the Roanoke Vineyards 2007 Gabby’s Cabernet Franc, but I hope to give you some history on the wine and the man as we all know him, Gabby.
For years, Gabby Pisacano, father of Richard Pisacano, (vineyard manager at Wolffer Estate Vineyards and co-owner of Roanoke Vineyards, along with his wife Soraya) tended to grapes. But because of one single bottling from the 2006 vintage, Gabby became a celebrity, a person of folklore and a man with a cult following of wine enthusiasts.
It was the winter of 2005, Gabby had been working under Rich, tending to the red wines vines that grow on the Roanoke Vineyards site on Sound Avenue in Riverhead. Gabby had a thought and he demanded that he take over the 12 eastern most rows of Cabernet Franc. You can see those rows from the tasting room; off the side patio look to the vines and the 12 rows in front of you are Gabby’s. Rich really had no choice, and he gave those rows to his father. Gabby is the only one who tends to the vines, no one else touches the fruit.
Gabby’s thought on the Cabernet Franc is a simple thought, that he could manage the “Twelve Rows” as they are widely known, “if he ultra-manicured the vines, so that each grape had perfect exposure to the sun and wind, and that there was plenty of space around the fruit for the breeze to circulate, his rows would avoid any disease pressure and ultimately deliver pristine fruit.” that according to his bio on Roanoke Vineyards website.
Gabby can be seen walking the “Twelve Rows” with and x-acto blade cutting out a berry from every cluster that does not look right. At harvest time, Gabby watches with a close eye as “The grapes are de-stemmed, then they run down a conveyor belt where ten people watch and remove any funky grapes. The Gabby’s fruit was, and has been for each vintage, totally pristine.” according to Scott Sandell, media and creative director at Roanoke Vineyards.
So the formula to making this wine is simple, Gabby in the vineyard, Roman Roth in the cellar making the wine and most importantly once it is in bottle, age. Be sure to age this wine. While we know that this is something that is hard to do, I has been for me in regards to all wine, I will try to hold on to a few of these for the long haul, like in 10 years or so.
Just like Gabby’s 2006 I tasted this over the course of 5 days. Here are my notes on the tastings:
Day One: On the nose I was getting ripe concentrated fruit. Cherry and blackberry come to mind. It was earthy with a floral and a tea leaf aroma. There was some heat on the nose, remember it was a hot year so the alcohol was a little higher than the 2006 version. There was some green herbal notes as well, like dried sage and mint. When I tasted the wine, I was picking up more of the concentration of fruity berries. It was spicy, fresh ground black pepper spice and cardamom. There was some mint and euculaptys as well. It was smooth and velvety with rich tannins and great acidity. It was a bit tight at first, it needed time. You could taste the youthfulness of the wine.
Day Two: This hit my wheel house; Earthy, dried cherry and grilled jalapeño pepper. Dried sage, bay leaf and peppercorns, whole ones not crushed. It tasted like baked berry tart. Raspberry, blackberry and plums with more of a peppercorn spice finish.
Day three: A bouquet of flowers and fresh topsoil, spice, black pepper and dried mint and basil. The fruit on the nose was not as prominent, diminished some by the spice. The taste brought some tart cherry and some heat.
Day four: The earthy funk continues with more of a mushroom and forest floor note. The wine is more green on the palate as well. It is a good green, not an under ripe green. The fruit is there, it is just hidden. A few extra swirls in the glass and you can pick up some of the cherry notes. There is also some exotic spice elements that share the palate with the good greenness of the wine.
Day five: this on my last day of tasting, it was showing more green, basil, mint, sage on the nose, but on the taste, the fruit reappeared; dried cherry and baked berries with a hint of cedar. Earthy and spicy with a hint of smoke.
So now after all this, what have I learned about Gabby’s Cabernet Franc. I have learned that meticulous detail, care and attention given to vines, the fruit they bear and the wine that they make can produce one of the finest cabernet franc’s I have ever tasted. These are the same grapes from two different vintages; the 2006 vintage and the much heralded 2007 vintage. The 2006 at the time was not considered a stand out vintage. But in tasting various 2006’s, it appears that these are doing very well as time goes on. While 2007 is wonderful, you can tell, this is still young and maybe needs another year in the bottle. The 2006, one year after release, is tasting deliciously good — and will continue for years to come.
Another thing I have noticed about this 2007 offering is that it is showing greener than the 2006. I would almost say that the 2007 Gabby’s is a Franc lovers Franc, considering the good green notes it is showing. I think that this is varietal correct. This 2007 may be the greenest of the 2007 Cab Franc’s that I have tasted, and that is a good thing. 2007 vintage was a hot one and on some Cabernet Franc’s I tasted, I noticed some not as green, the good green, which is something I like in my Franc. There is no mistaking the 2007 Gabby’s Franc as Cabernet Franc. Roman Roth, the wine maker, I think kept it real and did not try to make Cabernet Franc into something it is not supposed to be.
My goal is to re visit the 2007 next September 25th, when Gabby releases the 2008 Gabby’s Franc. I tasted the 2008 in barrel in late June and it was classic Gabby, clean, ripe cherry, minty and spice.
If you are lucky enough to have some of the 2007, it is sold out, hold on to them and taste again in a few years. If you missed out, you may get a chance again, Roanoke dose release them every so often to wine club members, and if you are a member you are in luck. If not, I would consider investing in their club, if just for the opportunity to get your hands on some Gabby’s Franc in the future.Note: This bottle was given to me as a sample to review.