Billsboro_06cabernetfrancI've been a little hard on Finger Lakes reds over the years. Okay, at times I've been more than a "little hard" on them, but of late a few have grabbed my attention — mostly from the hot 2005 vintage.

When I pulled this Billsboro Winery 2006 Cabernet Franc ($18) from my cellar for tasting, I didn't have high hopes. 2006 wasn't a great year for reds in the Finger Lakes and several that I've tasted just weren't very good.

But this wine impressed with nuance, elegance and spiciness.

Co-owner and winemaker Vinny Aliperti, who serves as winemaker at Atwater Estate Vineyards as well, did something that is surprisingly rare in a cooler, less ripe vintage. He didn't over-macerate for deep color extraction or bludgeon this wine with oak. Instead, he crafted a wine that was true to the vintage, but still delicious.

This lighter-styled red pours a medium-light ruby and almost looks like a pinot noir. A few swirls are all it takes to wake up a nose that is earthy and spicy with cinnamon and allspice sprinkled over fresh red cherries, strawberries and a little briar.

Light bodied and extremely smooth, this wine has bright cherry and red raspberry flavors with more of that cinnamon spice and hints of earth. With a little time in the glass, flavors of anise and herbs join the fray. It's a little soft, but not overly so, with enough acidity to work well with food.

Some people probably won't love this wine because they are so used to big, hulking wines that knocks you over the head. Instead, it wraps its lithe arms around you and teases your senses.

83% cabernet franc, 17% cabernet sauvignon
Producer: Billsboro Winery
AVA: Finger Lakes
Price: $18
(3 out of 5 | Recommended) 
(Ratings Guide)