By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor

Wiemer-08-cab-franc Want to find the best wineries in a region, particularly ones from a cooler climate? Taste the red wines from less-than-ideal vintages.

If the reds wines made in shorter, cooler and/or rainier growing seasons are good, chances are the rest of the portfolio is going to impress as well.

The best wineries delivery quality year in and year out.

By that, and any other criteria really, Seneca Lake's Hermann J. Wiemer is a top producer. This Hermann J. Wiemer 2008 Cabernet Franc ($20) — from a not-very warm year — is a bit of proof.

Somewhat reminiscent of Beaujolais on the nose and on the palate, it offers black cherry, blackberry, earthy-floral tea, licorice and rocky graphite note.

Crunchy berry flavors dominate a bouncy medium-bodied palate with light herbal tones, medium-light tannins and a gravelly, earthy edge.

This isn't an intense, hulking style of cabernet franc. Winemaker Fred Merwarth could have bludgeoned this wine with oak to cover up those herbal notes. Instead, he has captured the qualities of the vintage and lets them do the talking. I like what they have to say.

Producer: Hermann J. Wiemer
AVA: Finger Lakes
ABV: 11.9%  
Price: $20*

(3 out of 5, Very good/Recommended)

(*Ratings Guide)