2002 Foris Vineyards Winery Cabernet Franc Reserve Rogue Valley

Foris Vineyards Winery Cabernet Franc Reserve Rogue Valley Every family has its outcast. In the world of Oregon winemaking, it's the Rogue Valley. Because of its higher elevation and greater climactic variety, the aptly named Rogue Valley bears more of a resemblance to California's North Coast than it does to the Willamette and Columbia Valleys to the north. In fact, the region actually *was* part of California until the area was resurveyed during the second half of the nineteenth century! Climactically, the Rogue Valley is so diverse that the appellation is comprised of several smaller regions: the relatively cool, damp Illinois River Valley; the more temperate Applegate Valley; and the even warmer and drier Bear Creek Valley.

The two vineyards that grow the Cabernet Franc for Foris are, not surprisingly, located in Bear Creek Valley. Evans Creek was formed in 1981, when an NBC News producer, Vernon Hixson, met Nancy Tappan, an ex-magazine editor, while on location in the Rogue Valley filming a documentary. Together, they conspired to plant grapes on what'd been Tappan's garlic and cattle ranch. Pheasant Hill Vineyards was founded in 1990, after Laura and Kurt Lotspeich met Foris's owner, Ted Gerber, and convinced themselves to emigrate from Colorado and try winemaking.

The Bear Creek Valley typically receives fewer than 20 inches of rain per year, less than a fifth of which falls during the grape-growing season. The 2002 season benefitted from consistently dry, warm days and cool nights; this allowed for a slightly later October harvest and resulted in a particularly ripe, complex fruit. Once picked, the de-stemmed grapes were partially crushed before the small-batch fermentation, during which any remaining berries were hand crushed. Gerber's experience has taught him that this gradual method of crushing the grapes results in less tearing of the skin, which means a softer, less bitter wine.

As one would expect, the 2002 Cabernet Franc is highly structured: it begins with spicy, mocha aromatics, and is followed by an intense raspberry and ripe-tannin palate, and a broad, lingering, chocolate finish. Drink now-2012.