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casa rondenaThroughout much of the U.S. (outside California), Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon’s earlier ripening parent, is ubiquitous. It’s a classic variety they can get ripe before the cold weather or rain hits in the fall so they can reliably fill out their tasting room menu. The wineries who take it seriously make charming, elegant wines but a tendency toward green vegetal flavors and tart, exposed acidity make it unpleasant if approached as an after thought.

But New Mexico’s sun- baked climate seems to be a good match for this variety in the hands of Albuquerque’s  Casa Rondeña.

Subtle honeyed notes appear right out of the glass, white pepper and earth underlie the lovely fresh and dried floral elements that delicately cloak the dark cherry fruit.

On the palate it is elegant, not lush but more supple and silky, featuring dried fruit with wonderful juiciness on the midpalate and a spicy, languorous finish.

Generous but not excessively ingratiating, it has a slow evolution punctuated by pulsating juice, with a finish that just sits there quietly reverential and persistent.

A serious wine, one of the best we tasted this year in our exploration of American wines.

Aged for 2 years in Hungarian oak.

This wine shows best when paired with music played legato.

The quiet, pensive, joy of Abdullah Ibrahim’s Blue Bolero is transcendent on its own; with the wine we are initiated into the mysteries.

Score: 93

Price: $25

Alc: 13%

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