Robin Ridge 2014 Cabernet Franc
Robin Ridge is a small winery owned by Tim and Carolyn Cotrill on Middle Bench Road just outside of the town of Keremeos, BC in the Similkameen Valley. They are known for bold tasting wines, red, white, and rosé and have a following for their Gamay and Pinot Noir, both of which are generally more extracted in style than other Similkameen (or even Okanagan) producers.
Zooming In: The Region and The Winery
I truly believe that the Similkameen Valley is one of the wonders of the BC wine world. There is a reason why the pyramids in Egypt are placed where they are and there is a reason by wine grown in the Similkameen Valley is as beautiful as it is. The Similkameen benefits from wind – a lot of wind – in fact annoying amounts of wind at times. But the benefits to grape and fruit growers is that it dries off the vines and trees so that mould, mildew, and rot have little to now chance of taking hold. Unlike in the Okanagan, where some farmers use the downdraft from helicopters hovering over their orchards to dry off the fruit after a summer rain (I have personally seen this many, many times), growers in the Similkameen need only wait a short time before the wind picks up again to dry everything off.
Geologically, the Similkameen differs again from the Okanagan. Thought they were both influenced by glacial activity in the last ice age, the Okanagan was a major drain (possibly a conduit for sub-glacial meltwater – but that’s just a theory) while the Similkameen had ice which then melted away with no significant effluent thereafter. The result is that many of the debris fans that descend from the valley walls remain nearly intact right down to the river while those of the Okanagan (such as the Golden Mile Bench) have been cut off at the knees and now end in dramatic drop-offs to the valley floor.
Robin Ridge’s location is on a plateau of land that is on the fan emanating from the valley to the north that enters the Similkameen at Keremeos. This the valley down which travellers from Penticton will descend as they head towards Keremeos. It is a relatively flat part of the plateau and is surrounded on all sides by beautiful vistas of the mountains, including the famously talused ‘K’ mountain towering over the southern horizon.
WITG (What’s in the glass)
This is all blueberries, dark cherries, black tea, and vanilla (courtesy of their oak program, no doubt). There are tannins here and they are smooth and ripe, without a trace of green in any way. Like the other reds in their portfolio, there are some good tannins here, which I love, and they are not out of balance at all. It is a style that is sometimes described (erroneously, in my opinion) as rustic, but that misses the point. To me, ‘rustic’ implies that the winemakers are hicks and don’t know what they are doing and that is absolutely not the case here. This is not the first vintage of Cab France that I have tasted from Robin Ridge and the consistency of their other reds, Pinot Noir and Gamay, are remarkably regardless of whatever weather Mother Nature dishes out in a particular vintage.
The Big Three Questions
Is it good for what it is?
Absolutely, insofar as anyone knows what a Similkameen Cabernet Franc should really taste like. Has there been enough of them to really give a fair comparison? Probably not yet although I have had great experiences with other Francs from Cerelia, Eau Vivre, and Seven Stones.
Will it Age?
Yes, probably medium-term at most. There are tannins there to be the anti-oxidant firewall and the acidity is good but will the fruit remain intact for the long-haul? Hard to tell. I do regret not buying a second bottle to keep in the cellar for a little longer, at least into 2020.
Would I buy it again?
Yes indeed and I would do it easily if I saw it on a wine list at a restaurant.
A beautiful example of a rich, extracted-style Cabernet Franc from the Similkameen Valley.
Cheers from wine country!