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Leah Jørgensen Cellars, Cabernet Franc

Oregon, United States 2019 (750mL)
Regular price$30.00
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Leah Jørgensen Cellars, Cabernet Franc

If you like to be on the cutting edge of what’s new and exciting in wine, Leah Jørgenson is a name you need to know. But, then again, I’d say the same to those who don’t care one whit about trends and just want to drink delicious, conscientiously farmed wines at reasonable prices.

Jørgenson was originally lured to Oregon place by the mesmerizing Pinot Noirs of the Willamette Valley, but her focus shifted southward, to the Umpqua and Rogue Valleys and the Cabernet Franc grape. Southern Oregon is a little warmer, and its soils are a little different, and in her embrace of Cabernet Franc Leah didn’t leave her Willamette Valley experience (Erath, Adelsheim, Shea) completely behind. Today’s plush and beautifully balanced 2019 is crafted in the same spirit as the best Oregon Pinot Noirs: It has an Old World sensibility, but it isn’t trying to be a carbon copy of its Old World inspirations (in this case, Chinon or Saumur-Champigny from the Loire). This is Southern Oregon’s interpretation, with its own compelling message, and everyone at SommSelect is convinced: This is a new benchmark from a new frontier.

After learning more about Leah’s life in wine, I was reminded of our friend Erin Nuccio, whose Evesham Wood/Haden Fig wines have become SommSelect staples. Like Nuccio, Jørgenson is a transplant from Washington, DC; she worked in wine distribution there and apprenticed at wineries in Virginia, but a trip to “Oregon Pinot Camp”—an annual, invitation-only pilgrimage of sommeliers, retailers, and other wine pros to the Willamette Valley—inspired her to head west and jump headlong into Oregon viticulture. 

Fewer than 300 cases of today’s 2019 were produced, using 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from two vineyards: Crater View Ranch and the Sundown Vineyard. Both these sites, which share similarly silty, clay/loam soils and elevations of about 1,600 feet, are in the Rogue Valley, but the wine nevertheless carries the broader “Southern Oregon” AVA designation on the label. Jørgenson described the harvest in ’18 as “outstanding,” thanks to some refreshing, well-timed rain near the end of September. She de-stemmed all the fruit but subjected it to a light crushing, so that some whole berries remained intact, and aged the finished wine in a combination of mostly neutral French oak and stainless steel tanks.

For a young, fresh red, this is also a beautifully integrated and complex red—marked not just by concentrated dark fruit but a smooth, silken texture. There’s only the slightest (very pleasant) hint of the “green” pyrazine notes that characterize Cabernet Franc; it’s much more about fruit and warm spice, including Morello cherry, blackberry, pomegranate, cranberry, violets, black pepper, anise, and ground coffee. It is medium-bodied, with soft tannins and a tangy, mouth-watering freshness that will sustain it for the next several years. Decant it 15 minutes before serving at 60-65 degrees in Burgundy stems and take a pairing suggestion from Leah Jørgenson herself: dry-rubbed BBQ ribs. If you weren’t already a Southern Oregon devotee, you will be now!

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United States


Columbia Valley

Like many Washington wines, the “Columbia Valley” indication only tells part of the story: Columbia Valley covers a huge swath of Central
Washington, within which are a wide array of smaller AVAs (appellations).


Willamette Valley

Oregon’s Willamette Valley has become an elite winegrowing zone in record time. Pioneering vintner David Lett, of The Eyrie Vineyard, planted the first Pinot Noir in the region in 1965, soon to be followed by a cadre of forward-thinking growers who (correctly) saw their wines as America’s answer to French
Burgundies. Today, the Willamette
Valley is indeed compared favorably to Burgundy, Pinot Noir’s spiritual home. And while Pinot Noir accounts for 64% of Oregon’s vineyard plantings, there are cool-climate whites that must not be missed.


Santa Barbara

Among the unique features of Santa Barbara County appellations like Ballard Canyon (a sub-zone of the Santa Ynez Valley AVA), is that it has a cool, Pacific-influenced climate juxtaposed with the intense luminosity of a southerly
latitude (the 34th parallel). Ballard Canyon has a more north-south orientation compared to most Santa Barbara AVAs, with soils of sandy
clay/loam and limestone.


Paso Robles

Situated at an elevation of 1,600 feet, it is rooted in soils of sandy loam and falls within the Highlands District of the Paso Robles AVA.

New York

North Fork

Wine growers and producers on Long Island’s North Fork have traditionally compared their terroir to that of Bordeaux and have focused on French varieties such as Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

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