2017 I. Brand & Family, Cabernet Franc, Bayly Ranch, Paicines, San Benito County.
The beautiful Bourgueil like dark garnet and ruby Bayly Ranch Cab Franc from Ian Brand is maybe the best Loire style version for the money in California and the 2017 vintage is the best yet with warm ripe details and some classic pyrazines (bell pepper) in the background as well as gorgeous floral notes and earthy intensity. Ian Brand, maker of the fun Le P’Tit Paysan line and the La Marea Albarino, does an amazing set of small lot signature single vineyard wines under his I. Brand & Family label, and these limited bottlings are fabulous terroir wines that highlight some underrated areas and vineyard sites, I call him a Vineyard Whisperer, and his latest set of wines are wonderfully compelling, especially this Paicines, Bayly Ranch Vineyard Cabernet Franc. Bayly Ranch is in the San Benito AVA and within the Paicines zone, which is near the Tres Pinos Creek and the San Andreas Fault. The soils here consist of a stony mix including ancient alluvial deposits with an array of geologic structures in this warm climate that refreshed by cool nights, making it a sublime place for Cabernet Franc. This Franc, the Loire inspired one joins the denser and more Bordeaux like Bates Ranch in Brand’s collection, he really has a great feeling and touch with this varietal, both are exciting examples and make a great pair of bookends!
Crafted using traditional methods, the Bayly Ranch was vinified using whole berry grapes that were picked at moderate sugars, usually with selected yeasts, with a cool two week maceration, then raised for just under a year neutral (well seasoned) French oak, all to highlight vitality and keep natural acidity, while the vintage speaks clearly of expressive fruit richness. Old world Franc lovers will absolutely love this wine, as mentioned it has the nature of a fine Bourgueil, like Catherine and Pierre Breton’s in France’s Loire Valley, though there is plenty of California fruit to keep the natives happy. The 2017 I. Brand & Family Cabernet Franc Bayly Ranch starts with an intriguing nose of racy violets, rose petals, cinnamon and earhy tones that leads to a medium/full palate that feels seamless and round, but with a lively pop of red fruits including plum, cherry, raspberry and currant along with a hint of leather, pepper, weathered cedar, anise, loamy stones and wild chanterelles. It truly is hard to imagine a better Franc for the price, and it is outstanding with gamey and or robust country cuisine, it’s sweet tannins melt away with food and the seductive long finish, echoing each element is stunning. Of Brand’s latest set, look for his interesting amber colored “Orange” skin contact Pinot Gris from Eden Rift vines, also in San Benito County, the fine and textured Escolle Chardonnay, the vineyard yeast ferment Alt Cut Albarino and this Bayly Cab Franc, all very unique and delicious stuff.
($30 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive