A nose to remember, a palate to forget

Long Point Cabernet Franc 2007

Another Cayuga East wine steps up to the palate

Another Cayuga East wine steps up to the palate

Appelation: New York
Varietal: 100% Cabernet Franc
ABV: 12.9%
RS: dry
Price Point: $15
Looks: very dark, with magenta around the edges
Nose: Smells great. Fruity. Dark fruity, actually. With blackberry and blueberry. Vanilla, cedar Alcohol features prominently on the nose as well.
Palate: Lot of acidity on the palate, with a whole lot of bitterness. Mid-palate a bit like a cardboard box. Decent {astringency} but almost non-existent finish. It’s like someone yelling “Surprise!” when the wrong person comes in the door. A lot of expectations built up on the nose. Take a sip, and all of a sudden it gets loud and obnoxious and then… silence.
Rating: corkhalfcork Ok {tannin} structure, but the bitterness is a deal-killer for me.

The best way to evaluate color is to tilt your glass and hold the wine over white piece of paper, or in this case a long-overdue peer review.

The best way to evaluate color is to tilt your glass and hold the wine over white piece of paper, or in this case a long-overdue peer review.

I was really surprised by the amount of color on this wine. I initially suspected that some other grapes were blended in, but I emailed the winery and they replied that this wine is 100% estate-grown cabernet franc. This wine has a really fruity nose, but just does not deliver on the palate. In fact, it’s pretty bad on the palate.


When red wine grapes come in from the vineyard, they are usually crushed and destemmed (in a machine called a crusher/destemmer, go figure) and then fermented along with their skins and seeds. Winemakers can keep the juice on the skins for varying amounts of time before starting fermentation (cold soak) to prolong skin contact and get a little more color in the wine. After fermentation, the wine that runs out of the tank without any pressing is known as the free run. Pressing the wine off the skins yields more wine, but also can extract some undesirable stuff. For example, the seeds and jacks (little pieces of stem) are usually still around (unless some seed removal took place during fermentation, more on that in a future post).

{Tannins} are polymeric chains of of polyphenols. The bitterness of these polymers tends to vary inversely with degree of polymerization (i.e., molecular weight). Tannins found in seeds and stems tend to be shorter chains (lower molecular weight) and more bitter-tasting than the longer-chained skin tannins. Need proof? Go chew on some grape skins, then break open a seed and chew on it.

Pressing can subject the grapes to high pressures (how high depends on the type of press) which can press on the remaining seeds as well as the skins. Press fractions are considerably higher in polyphenol content and higher in pH (due to potassium ions extracted from skins). There is a reason that hard press fractions are often set aside from the free run and first press fractions. Basically, harsh treatment at the press can result in bitter polyphenol groups being extracted from the skins and seeds, leading to an overall increase in bitterness in the wine. (Ref: Brossaud et al., “Bitterness and astringency of grape and wine polyphenols”, Aus. J. Grape Wine Res., 2001)

PS: Oak can contribute some bitterness as well but its tannins are a bit different form those in grapes.

My guess is that long extraction (in hopes of maximizing color) and harsh treatment on the press let some undesirable bitterness sneak in and ruin this wine.

Published in: on 1 May 2009 at 2:22 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Green seeds are immature, green to tan and tan to brown seeds is maturing, … Ripe seed tannins are desirable as they are less easily extracted …

    So when you open a grape look at the seed and see if the seed is ripe, brown…not green…if ripe the tannins will be wonderful no matter how you press to a normal point…Cab Franc can exhibit a bell pepper note that is High methoxypyrazine concentration in grapes at harvest is generally associated with unripeness (Chapman et al. 2004, Hashizume and Samuta 1999,

  2. true, but i didn’t get any green pepper (MP) character in this one. I think it was fully ripe (pretty high alcohol too, for FL), but maybe overextracted and/or maybe they blended too much press fraction back. the last press fraction always tastes like crap, no?

  3. Yes, I 99.9 % never go for the last press …it’s would be the 5 th at 2 bars of pressure … whoever goes for this will risk the wine unless it’s a drought year…so much great wine is ruined by that last press…

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