Sometimes I encounter a bottle so effortlessly delicious and well-priced that I refuse to belabor it with a complex sales pitch.
With that in mind, there are two simple points I want to make about superstar-to-be Laura Brennan Bissell’s hugely over-performing 2016 “Lalalu” Cabernet Franc: (1) Good luck finding another truly artisan-scale domestic Cabernet Franc possessing this winning combination of purity, elegance, and value; and (2) trust that it must be enjoyed fresh, in the spirit of your favorite cru Beaujolais and young-drinking Loire Valley Cabernet Franc. Whether partnered with rich mushroom pasta, herb-roasted chicken, or a perfectly grilled cheeseburger, this bottle is an undeniably great value that will transform an otherwise simple weeknight dinner into a lively and memorable feast. The only catch with this bottle is its scarcity, so you might want to move fast!
Thirty-four-year-old Laura Brennan Bissell is rapidly becoming one of the most talked-about young producers in California. A mere two years after Laura’s first INCONNU release, I now regularly see her wines poured at top restaurants across the Bay Area. I think that’s mostly because Laura is a serious talent and her wines clearly stand out from the crowd—but it’s also because she keeps her prices resolutely low. Keep in mind that today’s wine originates in a pristinely farmed organic single vineyard, and that zero compromises have been made in its creation. It’s not unusual for other wines of this modest price point to be “cut” with bulk wine or leftovers from other cuvées. With Laura, however, you always know you’re getting a true snapshot of a specific vintage and organic terroir. This is real wine and serious value.
Today’s 2016 “Lalalu” Cabernet Franc is one of Laura’s most limited releases (I challenge you to locate a bottle retailing anywhere in the US!) and of all her cuvées I’ve tasted, this is the one that most appeals to my admittedly Eurocentric palate. Still, that doesn’t mean it demands years in your cellar before showing its stuff. On the contrary, this beautifully energetic and thirst-quenching red should be enjoyed in the next 18-24 months in order to capitalize on its vivid youthful fruit and bright, mineral energy. With judicious alcohol and sulfur levels, it glides across the palate with elegance and weightlessness. Bright red fruits, wet stone, blue flowers, lively tension and pronounced freshness make this an absolutely perfect bottle to chase away winter doldrums or to welcome the first warm spring day. Please decant for 30 minutes before serving in medium medium Bordeaux stems at 55 degrees. Also, as with all Laura’s wines I’ve enjoyed, this bottle doesn’t lose a step on day two; so while it’s difficult to not polish off an entire bottle in one sitting, certainly don’t feel pressured to do so. For me, this is a quintessential bistro wine that demands to be quaffed in between bites of steak in a noisy French (or American) bistro. The next-best option is grilling up a medium rare hanger steak with either buttery mashed potatoes or a bubbling gratin. Don’t overthink it, just drink it!
Contra Costa County
Cabernet Franc 100%