Imagine the surprise of walking into the newly revamped Chelsea Wine Vault, only to find Dorigo Cabernet Franc on sale as part of their "Top-ten Wines of the Month" promotion. Imagine the horror of seeing this charming, surprising Fruilano wonder blasphemously labeled "The Burger Wine of the Month!!". Poor, underrated Cabernet Franc. The varietal we are used to seeing blended, but - when cultivated with love and tenderness - transforms into something altogether luscious, warm and spicy on its own.
This is a wine not uncharacteristic of the region from which it stems - that is to say, it's not an easy wine. I wouldn't even venture into "crowd pleaser" territory, but it's worth the trip outside one's comfort zone. It's refined on the nose, and bizarre on the palette at first blush. Dark berries over liquorice, with a touch of herbs. Chalky minerality the speaks of the rocky, volcanic soil in which it grows, and capped by a velvety, intelligent finish.
Girolamo Dorigo is an amazing producer. They offer some rarified varietals such as Schioppettino, Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso (namesake of my red Betta fish) and Tazzelenghe (which means, in dialect, "cut tongue") - with razor-sharp tannins that are somehow infinitely pleasurable and balanced. For the uninitiated. Dorigo offers a little clue on each of his labels: those with the wine barrel icon indicate that the wine was aged in barrique - if that is to your liking.
I have a soft spot in my heart for this Cab Franc - meant to be appreciated, lingered over and paired with witty conversation. I can always count on Natasha and Michael for that.
Wine: 2003 Girolamo Dorigo Cabernet Franc, Colli Orientali Del Friuli, Italia
Varietal: 100% Cabernet Franc
Recommended Pairings: Meat dishes, tomato-based pastas or heavenly all on its own. Case-purchase worthy.