Steve Shaw at Shaw Vineyard is marching to the beat of his own drum. The winery routinely waits to release their red wines for a minimum of five years and some of their white wines as well. This is rare in our region, where red wines are usually released within one to three years of the date they were picked. Steve was also one of the first winemakers in our area to produce orange wine, a white wine made in the style of a red wine where the skins of the grapes are left in contact with the wine. Recently, Shaw Vineyard’s released something else different- an unoaked Cabernet Franc.
Not all red wines are oaked. The famous Beaujolais Nouveau is made from Gamay Noir and is not oaked. Sweeter reds like Hazlitt’s Red Cat don’t see any oak. Rosé style wines don’t see oak either. But non-Rosé style Cabernet Francs are usually oaked.
Aging a wine in oak can help add flavor, making the wine smell like vanilla, smoke or baking spices, or it can change the texture, reduces the acidity, creating a smoother and creamier mouthfeel.
So what does it taste like when you take a red wine (one that a certain wine blogger adores) and make it without the oak? Luckily for us, Steve Shaw has the answer.
See: Ruby color, surprisingly translucent (it almost has the look of a very dark Rosé)
Smell: Raspberry and blackberry. At first it’s almost all I get on the nose. Then, hints of leather, pepper and something herbal like mint.
Sip: It has a surprisingly full body given the lack of oak, an intense but pleasing acidity that reminds me of cranberries, and a grippy tannin.
Overall: This wine is fascinating to try- it really shows you what a Cabernet Franc tastes like. However, I would let it open a little. When we first tried it the berry notes and acidity almost blew me away, but that goes away when open and it changes into a fantastic and delicious wine. I’m definitely going to run out and get more bottles of this.
Winery: Shaw Vineyard
Region/Sub-Region: Finger Lakes/Seneca Lake
Wine: Unoaked Cabernet Franc
Varietal: 100% Cabernet Franc