Please The Palate Wine of the Week: Smith Story Wines 2017 Cabernet Franc, Sonoma County

Cabernet Franc is a black-skinned French wine grape that is typically blended in red wines, especially in Bordeaux where it is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot where it adds herbaceous notes of tobacco and spice. As a single varietal wine, Cabernet France is prized in the Loire Valley, especially in Chinon, Samur and Samur-Champigny, where the grape is known for its ripe berry and sweet spices. However, in general, it is not uncommon to describe single-varietal Cabernet Franc wines as showing vegetal characteristics, such as green bell pepper, and therefore defined as unripe.

But, when I put my nose in the glass of the Smith Story Wines 2017 Cabernet Franc from Sonoma County, there was nothing green about it. Notes of bramble, coffee, cinnamon, mint and winter spices jumped out of the glass. And that is why the Smith Story Wines 2017 Cabernet Franc, Sonoma County is the Please The Palate wine of the week.

Smith Story Wines is a family-owned boutique winery owned by Eric Story and Alison Smith Story. With a focus on finding places that are special to Eric and Ali, they produce wines from Germany, Anderson Valley, Sonoma Coast, Russian River, and Sonoma. Each vineyard they work with is family-owned and they work closely with the grape growers. Their philosophy is to utilize old world techniques to produce wines with a sense of place.

Inspired by Chinon in Touraine in the Loire Valley, the Cabernet Franc is sourced from  mountain top vineyards from the Chalk Hill AVA, Russian River AVA and Pine Mountain AVA. Cabernet Franc prefers cool climates but Eric and Ali realized that if you do not remove the canopy, the grapes will not ripen. They make sure to take care of their plants and by removing the canopy, the Cabernet Franc ripens beautifully.

All three vineyards were picked in the same week, hand-sorted, de-stemmed and fermented separately in open top stainless steel. The wine was aged in used French barrels for 21 months and then bottled unfined and unfiltered.

2017 Smith Story Cabernet Franc, Sonoma County is a gorgeous medium-bodied wine with soft sandy tannins. It is super enjoyable to drink and it available for $48 per bottle.

Open up a bottle of the Smith Story 2017 Cabernet Franc and you will understand why it is the Please The Palate wine of the week.