2015 I. Brand & Family, Cabernet Franc, Bayly Ranch, Paicines, San Benito County.
Ian Brand had opened up his magnum library and there’s some really fun things available and I got a preview with this lovely and nicely maturing Bayly Ranch Cabernet Franc being one of the treats that impressed out of the big bottle showing classic varietal character, very much in the Loire Valley style, delivering early red fruits, spice, mineral and well judged and restrained oak usage. This bottling has always intrigued me, Cab Franc fans should try this one while they can, as this vineyard saw it’s last Cabernet Franc harvest last year and was sadly re-planted to other varietals, though Ian, ever the vineyard whisperer has assured me that he has found another fabulous source and that his all new 2021 and 2022 Cab Francs will be hugely exciting versions. I love how much this Bayly Ranch tastes like Bourgueil, Saumur-Champigny and Chinon, with beautifully transparent layers of red currant, plum, mixed berry and dark cherry fruits, along with violets, minty herb, bell pepper, a touch of bay leaf, pipe tobacco, chalky stones and sandalwood. This 2015 is evolving and in the glass it adds tertiary elements, leather notes and dusty baking spices, plus its tannins have already have softened and the wine feels silky vinous on the medium bodied palate, making it very nuanced and lightly weighted and best with food, with subtle meat dishes and or duck breast being nice companions to this stylish almost strawberry juice and garnet hued effort.

As mentioned here, the Bayly Ranch Vineyard Cabernet Franc is sourced from vines in the San Benito County and within the Paicines AVA, which is near the Tres Pinos Creek and the notorious San Andreas fault. The soils here consist of a stony mix including ancient alluvial deposits with an array of geologic structure, set in a warm climate location that is refreshed by the cool nights, making it a sublime place for Cabernet Franc, as this wine shows. This Cab Franc, winemaker Ian Brand’s Loire inspired example joins the denser and more Bordeaux like Bates Ranch version in Brand’s exceptional latest collection, he really has a great touch with this varietal, with both of the Cab Francs being exciting wines with their own personality and they make a great pair of bookends! To enhance the classic charm of his Bayly Ranch Cabernet Franc, Brand and his team went with traditional methods with the grapes seeing careful sorting and de-stemming with a cool maceration to preserve aromatics and the wine was aged in a combination of well seasoned French oak that allows for its more raw or old world side to shine through. The 2017, 2018 and 2019 Bayly Ranch Cab Francs are all exceptional vintages and I highly recommend grabbing as many as you can while they are available, along with the few magnums of this 2015 and the 2016 as well, that are now offered at the I. Brand & Family Winery tasting room. It’s worth mentioning too, that along with the Bayly Cab Franc in magnum, Brand has also released some older vintages of his signature Grenache in the big bottles and they are just as stunning and should be overlooked!
($42 Est. In 750ml) 93 Points, grapelive

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