The 2013 Domaine Berrien Cabernet Franc is sourced from grapes grown on their 40 acres of Estate vineyards near the town of Berrien Springs, Michigan in the Michigan Shores AVA along Lake Michigan. Berrien Springs is 94 miles from Chicago on the opposite site of Lake Michigan and is probably not the first place you think of as a wine grape growing region, but Lake Michigan (which is actually an inland sea and not a lake) offers many of the benefits that are afforded to California’s coastal vineyard locations. Domaine Berrien has been growing grapes and producing wine since 1992 and the current owners, Katie and Wally Maurer have been in charge since 2001. This Cabernet Franc has been aged in French oak barrels (French oak barrels can cost $1,000 each) for 11 months using a mix of new and used barrels, then the wine is bottled and aged an additional 4 months before release. The alcohol content is 13.8%.
The color is a rusty red. The nose is red fruit and exotic spice. This is a lean and balanced Cab Franc, with very well-integrated tannins. It tastes raspberry, tart cranberry, sweet strawberry and an earthy minerality. This wine has very good length, the flavors keep on going and the tannins are right in the pocket. There is a full and long finish.
The 2013 Domaine Berrien Cabernet Franc would be right at home at a French wine tasting, long, lean and balanced, in a blind tasting you could be excused for thinking this was a Chinon. As a Chicagoan, we always thought of Michigan wine as fruit wines, they make some killer blueberry and strawberry wine, or maybe some White wines made from obscure German grapes and little known hybrids. But while we were looking to the West Coast for our wines, they started producing some real deal, quality wines, that are well priced considering they are produced in relatively small volume. Give it a try if you can find it, you will come away impressed.