Narmada Cabernet Franc Reserve – From India with Love
Narmada Winery located in Amissville, Virginia participated in the December 2nd, National Cabernet Franc Wine Competition. The Competition was hosted by California Wines and Wineries at The Golf Club at Copper Valley in Copperopolis, California. This was a blind competition with two sets of judges (Professional and People’s Choice) in different areas of the event. Narmada Winery 2016 Reserve won Bronze and Silver Medals. Their 2017 Reserve also won identical Bronze and Silver Medals Wines were submitted from 14 states and numerous AVA’s from around the United States. For more on the wine competition sponsored by California Wines and Wineries see:
This winery is new to me, so after talking with Jim Hollingshead, the winery manager, some interesting facts came to light. The winery was founded by Pandit and Sudha Patil. They were both originally from Mumbai, India. After each had a successful education with Pandit earning a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh and Sudha getting BS in chemistry and her DDS, specialty in Endodontics from the Georgetown University , towards their retirement, they had always been interested in wine. Thus the first wines were planted in 2004 and the winery opened a few years later in 2009. Sadly, Pandit passed in 2018. Tom Payette has been the consulting winemaker assisting Sudha for many years. They are producing today approximately 3,000 cases a year. They also produce Petit Verdot, Viognier, Merlot, Chambourcin, Chardonel, Merlot and a port.
I was curious as to the name Narmada and Jim told me about the background. Pandit who was awarded a full scholarship to the University of New Mexico while living in Mumbai India, could not afford the plane ticket to attend. His mother Narmada, hearing this great news of a full ride, decided to sell off her family jewelry that had been passed down generation to generation in order to get Pandit a ticket to attend college. Fast forward after a successful career for both of them, knowing that the start of their journey began with the love and generosity of his mother Narmada, it was an easy choice to honor his mother. Today the centerpiece of the wine portfolio is called “Mom”.
The 2016 and 2017 Narmada Cabernet Franc Reserve wines were tasted last evening. The bad news is that the 2016 Reserve is now completely sold out! The good news is that the consensus of us who tasted both, preferred the 2017 Reserve. One of the contributing factors of the purple hue is most likely due to 6% Petit Verdot being in the mix. As you can see the color was a deep purple in the glass with a medium viscosity. On the nose spices and violet flowers abounded. On the palate a joyous melding of raspberry, Bing cherry, soft leather and a hint of tobacco. The finish was spectacularly round, soft and with a forest meadow earthiness. This wine was in barrel for 30 months. Narmada Cabernet Franc vintages have won over 40 Gold Medals at various wine competitions! The 2017 Reserve will not be “generally released” until the fall of 2021 as they are currently re-releasing their 2014 Reserve which has been in barrel for five years! The 2014 is listed for sale at $48 and the 2017 will be sold at $50.
The Food and Wine Pairing
The wine was paired with a beautifully BBQ’ed filet mignon steak, garlic baked scampi, fettucine Alfredo with Gruyère cheese and a fresh garden salad (sorry no pictures!).
One of the fascinating takeaways from last evening for those “hooked on California wines” was the exposure to the excellent quality of this Virginia Cabernet Franc. In the conversation with Jim, there are approximately 350 wineries in Virginia with a majority making Cabernet Franc.