2019 I. Brand & Family, Cabernet Franc, Bayly Ranch Vineyard, Paicines AVA, San Benito County.
Ian Brand’s latest releases include some of his classics, some new gems and a few swan songs, with this Bayly Ranch Cabernet Franc being a standout with an earthy Loire style profile, but showing the vintage’s deep concentration, vital acidity and exceptional aromatics, it is a wine I don’t want to miss, as it has been a favorite Cab Franc of mine for more than a few years now. While Brand’s Bates Ranch Cabernet Franc is more Bordeaux like, luxurious and will cellar brilliantly, I just love this more raw and rustic bottling that reminds me of Bernard Baudry Chinon and or Thierry Germain’s Domaine des Roches Neuves Saumur-Champigny, which is high praise, with this 2019 Bayly almost eclipsing these old world stars. The dark saturated garnet and ruby edged I. Brand & Family Cabernet Franc Bayly Ranch starts with a sultry combination of chalky stones, violets, a touch of bell pepper and crushed raspberries that grabs your attention along with layers of black cherry, red currant, plum and mulberry fruits, as well as forest floor, brambly spices, cedar and anise accents. Everything folds together seamlessly and the tannins are ripely sweet and the structure is smooth, but there is enough underlying firmness and energy to provide the guts to age well too, this is wine that will benefit greatly and be more rewarding when paired with a hearty meal. My own notes from the last four vintages have been consistent, this vineyard provides a certain set of flavors that are very similar year in and year out, but as much as I loved the 2017 and 2018 versions, this 2019 might even be better and more rewarding, I highly recommend it and all of the new stuff under this label, but don’t wait this wines are pretty limited and sell out quickly.
The I. Brand Bayly Ranch Cabernet Franc, crafted using traditional methods, was vinified using carefully sorted whole berry (grapes)with some whole bunches that were picked at moderate sugars, usually with indigenous yeasts, with a cool, almost three week, maceration. Then it is raised for just under a year neutral (well seasoned) French oak, including old barriques and larger puncheons. The winemaking is non intervention within reason, all to highlight and promote this beautiful wine’s terroir character, varietal purity and natural vitality. Ian is a vineyard whisperer and has found many unique and remarkable sites through the years, he has also a way that gets the best and most authentic expressions out of these places, like this Bayly Ranch demonstrates in the glass. As mentioned in prior reviews, Ian has found some cool vineyards in the wilds of San Benito County, where some of California’s earliest settlers to this part of the state planted vines back in the 1800s, though were largely forgotten until Brand came on the scene in the last dozen or so years. Brand, who says he rather just drive his ugly trucks (to vineyards) and make wine, does a wide selection of offerings, including his fun Le P’Tit Paysan line and the hugely successful La Marea Albarino and Spanish style Grenache, as well as his amazing set of signature single vineyard wines under his I. Brand & Family label, where you find wines like this Franc, his Mourvedre and old vine Grenache bottlings. As noted before, The Bayly Ranch is located in the San Benito County, within the Paicines zone, which is near the Tres Pinos Creek and the San Andreas Fault with some limestone like influence. The soils here consist of a stony mix including ancient alluvial deposits with an array of geologic structures, which adds to the complexity here. This place has a warm climate that is refreshed by cool nights and some coastal breezes, making it a sublime place for Cabernet Franc, as this wine confidently displays. There are plenty of things to admire in Ian’s collection, just don’t overlook this one, it’s a very understated and transparent Cabernet Franc for the grape’s enthusiasts, drink over the next 5 to 10 years.
($34 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive