2019 Ryme Cellars, Cabernet Franc, Alegria Vineyard, Russian River Valley.
The Husband and wife team of Megan and Ryan Glaab at Ryme Cellars in Sonoma are turning out some fabulous wines and the latest releases include some intriguing efforts, like this beauty of a Cab Franc that pays tribute to the grape’s inner core of varietal character with loads of dark fruit and spice. This pretty example of California Cabernet Franc is nicely perfumed with hints of violets, mineral, brambly red berries and peppery notes with a medium bodied and energetic palate that highlights the vintage’s good acidity, soft tannin and ripe profile. In the mouth you find classic, more Loire like purity with crushed raspberry, red currant, plum and cranberry fruits along with a touch of earth, bell pepper, anise and subtle cedary notes. The Ryme Cabernet Franc grapes come from the Alegria Vineyard just south of Healdsburg in the Russian River Valley appellation, mainly known for the Acorn Winery’s Zinfandel. The vineyard is made up mostly of ancient field blend varietals from the 1800s, similar to what you’d expect in the vineyards used by Ridge, Bedrock and Carlisle. The Cabernet Franc vines that Ryme sources here were planted more recently in 1990, but they still are fully mature enough to provide excellent concentration and complexity as this wine shows. The Glaab’s note that this is a fairly cool climate site, influenced by the Ocean and fog that flows into this part of the Russian River Valley, once thought to be better for Pinot and Chard than for Cabernet Franc. But that said, for Ryme, the idea was to make a lighter bodied wine that embraced the natural herbal and floral qualities of the grape, which makes this wine so compelling and great with food.

The winery is well known for innovation and ancient inspired methods to ferment and age their wines with Ryme there is always something interesting to see and hear about in the cellar, and this Cab Franc saw a unique combination of techniques. Megan and Ryan fermented the 2019 in two separate lots, with one batch that was a full whole cluster fermentation in a tank and pressed gently by foot once a day to keep the top fresh and release some juice. This results, they say, in a partial carbonic fermentation, allowing a juicy fruitiness and stemmy crunch. The other lot was, as they add, also done with all whole cluster, but it was put into clay amphora to macerate and ferment, which I think adds a creamy texture and the savory elements. Ryme apply this regime into a few different versions of their wines sand it has been highly successful, but especially good here with this dark ruby colored Algeria Vineyard Cab Franc. Both of the Cab Franc fermentation(s) were pressed separately to neutral oak barrels for a year or so and then blended just a short time prior to the wine’s bottling. As I have mentioned here in recent reviews, Ryme is doing some very impressive stuff, with this Russian River Valley Cabernet Franc joining some tasty Italian varietals, including my favorite of their reds, the Aglianico(s), a quaffable Sangiovese/Friulano co-ferment and a brilliant array of whites made from Vermentino, Ribolla Gialla and Fiano, which all are absolutely delicious. I also, have to mention Ryme’s fun Pet-Nat style sparkling wines, because they are so much fun, in particular their red sparkler, the Crackling Valdiguie, which is mainly only sold on their mailing, so it s a good time to join it.
($35 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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