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.