Aberration: A departure from what is normal or expected…
Usually one for Rhône varietals, it certainly is a “departure from what is normal” to see a Cabernet Franc from Larry of Tercero Wines. But, as is his nature, if something is interesting to him, he’ll experiment with it, not letting a “reputation” or a “theme” hold him back.
“This is my first year with Cab Franc,” says Larry, “a variety that I’ve been intrigued with for quite some time, especially those coming out of Chinon.” Chinon, is another “unexpected” when it comes to influencing New World wines. It’s a small town just outside of the Loire valley whose red-centric wines are marked by a gritty rusticity due to the mountainous terrain. And that’s just what Larry loved when he tasted those wines and what he’s re-created — California-style.
About the Wine: Tercero Wines 2016 Aberration is made from 100% Cabernet Franc grapes harvested from Brick Barn vineyard just east of the Santa Rita Hills region — a relatively warm area filled with sandy loam soil.
Continuing the theme of aberration, Larry’s winemaking is a bit “out of the norm” as well. After harvest, the grapes are foot-stomped and fermented with 100% stem inclusion. When asked about this winemaking choice, Larry says “I didn’t want to do something just to ‘be different’ […] I wanted to ’embrace’ the variety and I think that by going 100% whole cluster, you get a sense of the ‘rusticness’ that makes this variety so enticing to me.
Finally, this red wine saw no oak, but was aged in 100% stainless steel — highlighting the brightness, acidity, and natural flavors of the Cabernet Franc grape (see tasting notes below).
Flavor Profile: Sniff just above the bottle when you twist the cap off. There’s a meaty scent of — meat? prunes? dehydrated plums? Yes, all of the above. As the Tercero Aberration flows from bottle to glass, it’s dark and filthy brownish-purple captures your attention straight away. In the glass, you can’t see through this clumpy maroon color, it’s as dark as an extremely reduced jus.
Initial aromas are grassy, herby, dirty, earthy — it’s a dark, wet forest filled with dark, wet wood, layered with dark, wet soil topped with fallen dark, wet plums, black cherries and other dark dark fruits. And what else can grow with all this darkness and wetness but delicate furry moss.
Swirl and the voluptuousness of those fallen fruits come forward. There’s a very thin line of acidity, but these fruits are so plump with juice and pulp that those are the aromas you’ll keep with you. At the top of the glass, the aromas are lighter, more akin to raw cranberries and freshly watered lawn.
On the palate, the wine is surprisingly bright with an almost crisp acidity that carries from beginning to end, but there’s an innate dryness to the wine that walks hand in hand, completely paralleling yet opposing that acidity. Those fruits that you sensed on the nose, they’re present in a dehydrated-rehydrated form.
Confusing? Yes. How can a wine be both bright and dark? How can a wine be so full of life and death?
Hold the wine in your mouth and it will take you through that cycle — the birth of fresh fruits that ripen and fall, fall and wilt, wilt and leather. Swallow and engage in the aftertaste — the afterlife — sweet herbaceous grass notes as the fruit withers and becomes one with the earth once more.
Food Pairing: I paired the Tercero Wines 2016 Aberration with seared venison topped with a cherry-red wine reduction sauce and frozen goats cheese. Perfect pairing full stop. I’m not the best photographer, but you can see my attempt to capture this deliciousness on my Instagram page @StacyLouBriscoe.
More Info: I received Tercero Wines 2016 Aberration as a sample for review. (Cheers Larry!) Retail: $40. (Use Discount Code ‘briscoe’ for 10% off.) For more information about Tercero Wines and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Tercero Wines website.
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