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roarkRyan Roark produces about 1500 cases of natural wine out of a small warehouse in Buellton just outside Santa Barbara. His goal is to showcase the distinctiveness of each vintage. “If you want consistency, make Coca Cola”:, Ryan quips. And so he uses only neutral barrels, native yeasts, and no additions except for a minimal amount of sulfur.

This Cabernet Franc is sourced from two organic vineyards in Santa Ynez Valley and Happy Canyon.

This has a bit more depth and concentration than most natural wines on the market. Aromas of red plum, dried flowers, and earth notes are shaded with the slightest intimation of gorgonzola.

On the palate the generous introduction turns minerally and crisp on the midpalate with a pleasant citrus note—think orange zest on a bed of graphite.

On the lighter side of medium body, and neither lush nor lean, it has a silky luster in the mouthfeel that contrasts with the zest and graphite thing. Well managed tannins and good acidity form a firm but seamless backbone keeping the focus on minerality. The finish has good length with a powdery exit. Buoyant and gentle, the wine is eccentrically cheerful, relaxed but quirky. A unique expression of Cabernet Franc.

Iron and Wine’s “Lovesong of the Buzzard” moves with the same gentle buoyancy.

Technical notes: 20% stem inclusion.

Score: 90

Price: $32 (Purchase here)

Alc: 13%

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