At the National Cabernet Franc Wine Competition held December 2nd, 2020, Cathedral Ridge Reserve earned a Silver Medal Award from the Professional Judges. This was for their 2017 Cabernet Franc Reserve. The grapes are sourced from Moody Vineyard overlooking the mouth of the Deschutes River in Oregon. This was their first year participating and expect even higher awards in their future! You can read more about the event at:
(Picture from Britannica of Columbia River Gorge)
Key to Cathedral Ridge Winery is their use of the land surrounding the Columbia Gorge. For readers not familiar to this area, I will use their description on their website as it is everything they state and more! “One of the most beautiful and historic geographic regions in the United States is the Columbia River Gorge. The stunning scenery features a dramatic climate shift from the temperate rainforest of Cascade Locks to the high desert at The Dalles, all occurring in about 50 miles. Fir and spruce give way to pines and scrub oak, and eventually to nothing but tall grass as one continues to move eastward. Microclimates arise throughout. This unique growing region allows us to embrace a trinity of different growing region varietals including grapes from Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Alsace. Along with the microclimates is a unique and constantly changing terroir. Prehistoric lava flows, repeated cataclysmic floods and glaciers have carved the bones of the Columbia River Gorge into the breathtaking scenery you see today. Using the highest quality fruit grown from one of the most unique growing regions in the world, we proudly offer our distinctive and elegant wines”.
While many people are involved at the winery two key people stand out. First is Robb Bell who is the owner. Robb had a long career in consumer package goods and strategic business consulting before he saw an opportunity for change and bought a very small winery from his neighbor Don Flerchinger in 2003. The other is Michael Sebastiani, Master Winemaker. He is the fourth generation winemaker from the famed Sebastiani family of Sonoma. While winemaking is in his blood, he graduated from UC Davis in winemaking. He became the youngest Head Winemaker at the beautiful Viansa Winery in Sonoma County and currently owns and operates the Generations of Sonoma Winery in Sonoma, California.
The winery offers a variety of wines reminiscent of France. The Columbia Gorge and the surrounding area with various microclimates allow them to produce wines similar to Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone and Rhine areas. Their offerings include: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Bangsund Pinot Noir, Dampier Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir Reserves, Chardonnay, Chardonnay Reserve, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Halbtrocken, Syrah, Syrah Reserve and a few other blends.
The 2017 Cabernet Franc Reserve Wine
The wine from the Moody Vineyard has two essential characters for Cabernet Franc-long sunny days and cool nightly breezes from the Deschutes River. First on the eyes, a brownish/red hue comes across. Once given a few swirls, it becomes a beautiful soft crimson color. On the nose some unique characteristics with herbs and an earthiness. On the palate, strawberries and red plums dominate but also a light “dustiness” and with abundant fruit provides an enjoying sips. This is not your “classical Cabernet Franc” with strong pyrazines and angular tannins, but soft and rounded to be enjoyed with or without food. Currently listed on the website at $44 and only 275 cases produced.
The Food and Wine Pairing
Last evening the wine was paired with a spicy Linguica sausage and bowtie pasta with broccoli. Multi-colored bell peppers, onions, garlic and seasoned with salt & pepper to taste. It was topped off with shredded Parmesan cheese. Accompanied by a fresh garden salad topped with Blue cheese dressing. Not your “normal Cabernet Franc food pairing” but it worked magnificently with the softer, rounder and drinkable Cabernet Franc.
While their Cabernet Franc was a solid Silver Medal winner, now what I am interested in is tasting their Pinot Noir Reserves and Halbtrocken!!