Long Island by the Bottle: Raphael 2017 Cabernet Franc

Photo by Lenn Thompson

The wines I drink are almost always directly tied to the types of foods that I’m eating. Often, that’s driven by the seasons. This time of year—it’s decidedly cooler, but far from cold—I tend to seek out wines that have a bit more weight as I start to roast winter squash and larger cuts of pork or chicken more often, but wines that are still juicy and fresh enough to enjoy with grilled fare. I’m a year-round griller, after all. 

This can mean white wines with some time in barrel or bolder styles of rosé. But my go-to this time of year is Long Island cabernet franc—particularly low- and no-oak renditions like Raphael 2017 Cabernet Franc—which are extremely versatile at the table. 

Raphael winemaker Anthony Nappa has made nimble, food-friend cabernet franc on the North Fork for more than a decade, first at Shinn Estate and now at Raphael and under his eponymous label, Anthony Nappa Wines

This Raphael 2017 Cabernet Franc ($22) was made in both stainless steel and neutral oak barrels, which allows what makes local cabernet franc so compelling to shine through. 

The nose shows nice red fruits—red raspberry and a little cranberry—with savory notes of summer herbs, woodsy Chinese Five Spice and even a little leaf tobacco. 

Medium-light bodied, the palate is fresh with acidity with similar flavors—all with a certain earthiness at the edges. The finish is long and—again—fresh with an almost briny salinity at the very end. 

Cabernet franc can be a polarizing grape. Not everyone likes the savory or “green” flavors, but if you do enjoy those nuances, this is a nice, affordable example. It packs a lot of complexity into a sub-$23 wine. 

Read more from writer Lenn Thompson in our archives here.