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CellarTracker Review: Lenora Winery 2005 Cabernet Franc

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Purchased at the winery on a day trip to Ramona Valley wineries in Oct 2012. Lenora Winery was our first stop, and this was my favorite wine that we tasted. I unfortunately cannot recommend much of what we tasted that day, but I think we all agreed on this one.

Cabernet Franc is usually blended with other Bordeaux varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Merlot. This vintage of grapes (sourced from Santa Barbara County) warranted this wine to be bottled on its own (or as the primary varietal).

Opened to pair with a plate of whole wheat pasta, mushrooms, & marinara sauce. Wine pours a dark purple hue, nose was earthy, not getting much of a bouquet. Nice smooth mouthfeel, not too tannic. Flavors of berries, leather, and tobacco on the mid-palate. Finished smoothly, albeit with a bite of alcohol (perhaps due to the age of this bottling).

Overall, a very good wine for the value that had me refilling my glass. Another example of the many finds awaiting San Diegans who explore the wine regions in our own backyards.

Score: 88
14.8% ABV

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San Diego hidden gems: Triple B Ranches Winery

Triple B Ranches is a small family-owned winery tucked away amidst the fields of Valley Center, near Escondido.  Owners Gary and Sheila Broomell just entered the local winery business this past November, with three generations of family all involved in operation.  They are dedicated to local, sustainable agriculture and all of the grapes for their Triple B Ranches label are estate-grown fruit.  Their grandson, Chris Broomell, is the winemaker, started out working with Jaffurs Wine Cellars in Santa Barbara and doing a harvest stint in South Australia.  In addition to Triple B Ranches, Chris puts out his own Vesper label, which are all sourced from single vineyards in various microclimates around San Diego County, including the McCormick Ranch near Mt. Palomar, and the Highland Hills Vineyard in the Ramona Valley AVA.

We pulled up to the old country house where tastings are available for the public Fridays through Sundays.  This is not one of those touristy McMansion wineries you might find in places like Temecula….this is no place for tour buses and they don’t have a big retail shop full of those sparkly blouses reading “Got Wine?” (or other once-snarky wine-related puns).  You’re likely to be among the few small groups visiting at any moment.  We were greeted by Debbie Broomell (mother of winemaker Chris),who prepared some bites to go with our tastings, and was happy to talk about the family’s farming background.  They don’t have a very extensive wine tasting list, since this is a small operation and many wines have sold out or very few bottles remain for sale.

All of the wines were solid and impressive–proof that San Diego County can rank right along better known wine regions if the varietals are selected carefully for the climate and given the right amount of attention in the winemaking process.  We especially enjoyed the 2008 Triple B Ranches Cabernet Sauvignon–great, medium bodied food-friendly wine, the 2008 Merlot–fruit forward with notes of strawberry rhubarb pie, and the Vesper 2009 Alcalà (white Rhone-style wine, 55% Marsanne/45% Roussanne)–refreshing and crisp with notes of honeysuckle and apricot.

Debbie Broomell running the house….cheese, crackers, and more to go with the wine.

      The next time you’re out on weekend in the backwoods of  North County, stop by Triple B Ranches.  When they have new vintages bottled and ready for sale, you might also catch them at the Little Italy Mercato Farmers’ Market on Saturdays.

15030 Vesper Road, Valley Center, CA 92082

http://triplebranches.com/

http://www.vespervineyards.com/