Monday, November 15, 2010

Day Two Seventy Nine - Long Island Cabernet Franc Marriage Mondays

Having just come back from the North Fork, I thought I'd feature one of Long Island's most prominent grape varietals this week in Marriage Mondays -- Cabernet Franc. Why is Cabernet Franc so widely planted on Long Island? That's because it is a cold weather grape -- able to sustain the North Eastern winters...

But how about a few facts about Long Island wines first?

The first vineyard on Long Island was planted in 1973 and the first winery opened its doors in 1975. Now there are over sixty on the North Fork, in the Hamptons and in Suffolk county. Over 500,000 cases of wine are produced just in Long Island yearly, of those, a decent percentage are Cabernet Franc wines or blends utilizing Cab Franc grapes.

According to recent studies, it has been determined that Cabernet Franc is one of the parent varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, however they are very different grapes and surely produce different wines. Cabernet Franc grapes ripen earlier and have thinner skins with a significantly less amount of acidity present than in Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. So what sort tasting notes typically characterize a Cabernet Franc versus a Cabernet Sauvignon? Cabernet Francs tend to be more floral, smoky, oaky, vanilla-y, fruity, and herbaceous with a twist of something vegetal and earthy, occasionally with a spiciness on the nose. Cab Francs are obviously lighter in color due to the thinness of their skins...

Got a good idea of what Cab Francs are like now? Shall we get to these week's cheese contestants?

Contestant Number # 1: Mecox Bay Dairy's Sunrise - Washed rind cow's milk cheese hailing from Bridgehampton. Sunrise is aptly named for its orange-hued rind that is developed from its aging ranging anywhere from two to four months. Stinky yet creamy, barnyardy yet smooth, almost even a little caramelly, this cheese is a fantastic melange of flavors. But does it have the flavors to go with our Cab Franc this week?

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Contestant Number # 2 : Salvatore Brooklyn's Smokey Ricotta - Our second contestant hails from the great borough of Brooklyn. Fresh, lactic, creamy and all around scrumptious is our second contestant! This version is home smoked and boy do you get the nuances of the woodiness paired hand in hand with the light bounciness of homemade fresh whole milk ricotta. Will the smokiness of the ricotta work with the smoky nose of the wine?

Contestant Number # 3 : Cooperstown Cheese Company's Toma Celena - Our last and final contestant hails from right near the home of the baseball hall of fame -- Americana to the fullest! Our cheese is an American interpretation of a classic cow's milk Italian table cheese -- firm, buttery, and delish! Toma Celena has notes of apple and honeysuckle with a grainy, caramelly, nuttiness to it. Down right crave-able is this cheese, great for beginning and advanced cheeselovers alike. Does it have what it takes to tango with our Cab Franc?

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So folks, which New York State cheese will have the chance to meet its match with the Cab Franc? Stay tuned to find out tomorrow!

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