Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Century is Made!

I've mentioned the Wine Century Club a number of times on this blog. I hadn't heard of the group prior to starting, but, as soon as I learned about it, I set my mind to making it an exciting part of 2001 Bottles - A Wine Odyssey. The concept is simple enough - keep trying new wines, new regions and new varietals and keep track of the different varietals you've tried. Once you've tried 100 different varietals, you can apply to become a member. The club's website say that "of the thousands of applications downloaded, less than 3% are completed."

I'm thrilled to say that I'm now free to send in my application.

Knowing that I was only a varietal or so away from being able to complete my application, I thought it would be a good idea to go over the wines that I've noted on the application form and compare them to ones that I've listed on the Blog Page that I'm also using to keep track (located off on the side panel). In going through those lists, it would seem that there are a few glaring absences.

I'm not entirely sure why I hadn't made a note of Cabernet Franc yet. It would have been one of the varietals that I could have added first to my application. I'm thinking that I must have realized that I could just add it at any time. Knowing that, I might as well hold out for the chance that someone might give us a bottle of something spectacular like a Chateau Cheval Blanc - perhaps the world's most famous wine that focuses on Cab Franc - so that I could add a special wine in my application. The Cheval Blanc doesn't seem to have arrived. So, I'd best go with what I've got - granted, it's not a bad substitute for the big gun Bordeaux. And it's substantially cheaper.

857. 2003 Poplar Grove Benchmark Cabernet Franc (Naramata Bench - Okanagan Valley)

Being North of the 49th Parallel, successfully ripening some of the big red varietals can be a task. Merlot may still be the most widely planted red varietal in BC and many growers may not even attempt the later-ripening Cab Sauv, but more than a few wine professionals in the province think that Cabernet Franc has a real future in the region. The varietal is still grown primarily for blending, but more and more wineries are starting to produce a varietal wine and, IMHO, this is one of the best.

Poplar Grove was one of the first Okanagan wineries to cotton on to the potential of Cab Franc as a single varietal. I don't think you would have found too many varietal wines being produced back in 2003 and, even with his early enthusiasm for the varietal, winemaker Ian Sutherland only made 320 cases of this Benchmark wine.

Luckily for us, the wine was still fresh and packed a good punch for a round of Memphis Blues take-out BBQ. 2003 was great vintage for the Okanagan and these vines were cropped at a mere one ton per acre (compared to other vineyards with yields of four tons per acre). The wine showed the complexity that is possible with Cab Franc and it was wonderful way to add the 100th varietal to my application form.

Now to start working on hitting 200 varietals.

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