By Evan Dawson, Finger Lakes Editor

Cabfranc1Tomorrow is an exciting and important day for cabernet franc and the Finger Lakes.

I've helped to organize a cabernet franc tasting at the New York Wine & Culinary Center (NYWCC). 16 wines will be tasted — some from the Finger Lakes and some from other cabernet franc-producing regions.

The wines will be divided into two flights of 40 minutes each. We will then reveal the wines and their scores from the participants.

Following the tasting, the NYWCC will serve a sure-to-be excellent lunch, where we'll pour a non-blind flight of reserve cab francs from the Finger Lakes.

We expect nearly 40 people in attendance, with a combination of winemakers, industry professionals, writers, bloggers and retailers. In fact, the following writers will attend and participate, so you can seek out their coverage as well:

  • Don Cazentre, Syracuse Post-Standard
  • Jennifer Baskerville-Barrows, Cookin' in the 'Cuse, Edible Finger Lakes
  • Holly Howell, multiple publications
  • Rob Lane, Finger Lakes Weekend Wino, Mountain Home Magazine
  • Tom Mansell, Ithacork
  • Neil Miller, Stressing the Vine
  • Thomas Pellechia, VinoFictions
  • Tom Tucker, Balloon Juice

The creator of this concept is Neil Miller, publisher of the blog Stressing the Vine. He and Anthony Road assistant winemaker Peter Becraft have worked extremely hard on this event, and we hope it accomplishes the following:

  1. Exposes more writers and retailers to Finger Lakes cabernet franc from a strong vintage
  2. Provides some insight into how this vintage is showing — not only in comparing winery to winery, but in comparing Finger Lakes wines to highly regarded cabernet franc from other regions
  3. Allows winemakers the chance to communicate with one another and with members of the media and retail trade

I imagine some critics might argue that we're cherry-picking an excellent vintage while ignoring other lesser vintages. Not so. While it's true, we're trying to see how cabernet franc fares when the weather is nearly ideal, this is hardly cherry-picking. That's because we're not saying this is what cab franc will be every single year; we're saying that this was an excellent year, so let's see what Finger Lakes potential truly means for the grape.

And while '07 was a strong vintage, it's not crazy to think we could see similar heat again (2009, er, notwithstanding).

It's also quite possible that the participants will find the '07 vintage to be a letdown. Warm weather is no guarantee for great wines. Growing practices continue to lag in many vineyards and winemaking technique varies from place to place.

The NYWCC has been more than generous in providing space, glassware and expertise for this event. While we don't assume it will be a definitive answer regarding that varietal and that vintage, it will certainly be instructive.

And, I'm guessing, a hell of a lot of fun.