Cabernet Franc Head to Head: Dablon vs 2 Lads

D= Dablon

2= 2 Lads

Maker

D: Dablon, Baroda, Michigan, USA

2 Lads: 2 Lads, Traverse City, Michigan, USA

Grape

D: Cabernet Franc (100%)

2: 85% Cabernet Franc, 15% Merlot

Place of origin (at least 85%)

D: Lake Michigan Shore AVA.

2: Old Mission Peninsula AVA.

Vintage: 2016

ABV

D: 12.7%

2: 13.5%

Purchased for

D: $23 (Holiday Market)

2: $38 (Michigan by the Bottle Tasting Room, Royal Oak)

Appearance

D: Dark ruby.

2: Very similar, maybe slightly lighter.

Nose

D: Plum, cedar, black currant

2: More subtle. French oak, cherry

Palate

D: Tart blueberry, red currant, leather.

2: More integrated. Chewy leather, unfoxy table grapes, ripe blueberry.

Finish

D: Drying with oak, a hint of ripe bell pepper.

2: Chewy. Clove, currant.

Parting words: Cabernet Franc is a “Workhorse” grape that does well in a wide variety of climates, particularly in cooler ones like Michigan. Many excellent examples of cool climate Cab Franc (like these two) are made here, in both the northwest and southwest parts of the state. That said, there are some big geological and climatic differences between the northern peninsulas and Lake Michigan Shore.

Although 2016 was a warm vintage and practically every vineyard in Michigan was able to get grapes as ripe as they wanted, I still expected Dablon’s Cab Franc to be riper and more lush, and 2 Lads’ to be more tart. I was surprised to discover that the opposite was true!

Dablon Cab Franc was quite acidic, but not unpleasantly so. 2 Lads was more elegant and subdued, perhaps helped in this regard by the addition of Merlot. The prices on these vary quite a bit, but every price I’ve seen for either has been within an acceptable range. If I had to pick a favorite between them, I’d say it was 2 Lads, but they’re both worth buying. Both go great with food too. They are both drinking well now, but probably wouldn’t come to any harm in another year or two (or more!) in the cellar. Dablon and 2 Lads 2016 Cabernet Francs are both recommended.

2 Lads Cab Franc/Merlot

Maker: 2 Lads, Traverse City, Michigan, USA20161215_163704.jpg

Grapes: Cabernet Franc (90%), Merlot (10%).

Place of origin: Old Mission Peninsula AVA, Traverse City, Michigan, USA

ABV: 13%

Price: Don’t remember. 2013 vintage is $32 at winery)

Appearance: Dark ruby.

Nose: Blackberry, blueberry, cherry, new oak.

Palate: Medium dry. Fruity but with backbone. Blueberry juice, roasted sweet red pepper, oak, vanilla.

Finish: Oak. A little chewy, then light vanilla.

Parting words: My wife and I bought this bottle several years ago when we made our first trip to 2 Lads. It was a part of the hallowed stash of bottles we brought with us from the old house.

I almost opened it a couple times after listening to the opinion of a couple folks in the “screw top wines don’t age” camp, but I’m glad I waited. This wine has aged into an elegant, harmonious example of what a cool climate Cab Franc can be. 2012 is generally the vintage to look for in Michigan reds, but 2 Lads Cab Franc/Merlot is proof that Michigan’s best winemakers still made good wines in cooler “white” vintages. We had this bottle with porterhouse steaks and it paired well, but given its character it could go just as well with BBQ or turkey. 2011 2 Lads Cab Franc/Merlot is recommended.

Two Lads Sparkling Pinot Grigio

Maker: Two Lads, Old Mission Peninsula, Traverse City, Michigan, USA2015-12-29-17.57.18.jpg.jpeg

Grape: 100% Pinot Grigio/Gris

Place of origin: Old Mission Peninsula AVA, Traverse City, Michigan, USA

Vintage: NV

ABV: 12.5%

Price: $30 (Michigan by the Bottle Tasting Room)

Note: Pop cap closure.

Appearance: Light gold with big fizz and persistant, quick bubbles.

Nose: Dry. Minerals, lychee, sage.

Palate: Effervescent. Mineral water, Meyer lemon, mandarin orange.

Finish: Dry and flinty. Slightly herbal and smoky.

Mixed: I tried this wine in a mimosa and a Death in the Afternoon (using herbsaint instead of absinthe). It was good in both and would probably work well in other champagne cocktails like a Kir Royale, but it’s so good on its own I’m not sure why anyone would want to use it in cocktails.

Parting words: I was blindly grabbing at bottles in a box behind some wine racks yesterday trying to find a sparkler to pull out for a review today. The first bottle I pulled out was a bottle of mid-range prosecco. Looks OK, I thought, but maybe I have something more interesting in there. I reached back again and pulled this out. “That’s it!” I actually said out loud.

I expected this to be tasty, but not quite this tasty. This wine is dry enough to remind me of brut Champagne, but retails enough sweetness and Pinot Grigio character to make it enjoyable to drink. Bone dry champagne never really turned me on, anyway. This is non-vintage but they also have produced vintages of this in years past. It pairs well with a wide variety of cusine, too.

Two Lads Sparkling Pinot Grigio is a winner. Drink it early in the evening while you can still tell how good it is and appreciate how pretty the conical bottle is. Highly recommended.

2 Lads Riesling

Maker: 2 Lads, Traverse City, Michigan, USAwpid-20150218_213116.jpg

Place of origin: Pratt Farm & Twin Bay vineyards, Old Mission Peninsula AVA, Michigan, USA

Style: Semi-dry

Vintage: 2012

Notes: Harvested 10/18 & 10/22/2012, Sugar: 22° Brix, pH: 3.29, 1220 cases produced.

ABV: 11.5%

Price: $16 (website)

Appearance: Bright gold with thin, streaky legs.

Nose: Under ripe pear, mineral water, mild pineapple, star fruit, woodruff.

Palate: Gently tart on entry, white peach, dried thyme and then minerals.

Finish: Dry and clean. Flint, hint of wildflower honey.

Parting words: It’s hard to know what one is getting into when one sees “medium dry” on a Riesling label. One person’s medium dry is another one’s sweet. This one is dryer than I thought it would be but that’s not a bad thing. It has all the stony, bracing qualities one expects in a dry Riesling, but still has enough sweetness to round itself out and keep it from becoming one dimensional. Does very well with food of all kinds and the price is reasonable for a Michigan Riesling of this quality. Drink now or in the near future. 2012 2 Lads (medium dry) Riesling is recommended.

2 Lads Rosé of Cabernet Franc

Maker: 2 Lads, Traverse City, Michigan, USA

Place of origin: Old Mission AVA, Traverse City, Michigan, USA

Vintage: 2011 (different vintage pictured)

ABV: 13%

Appearance: Pomegranate-colored

Nose: Dry, grapey, bit of toasted oak, bit of tobacco.

On the palate: Dry with some underlying sweetness, ripe plum, red raspberry jam, wild blackberry, oak.

Finish: Dry with lots of wood, but not unpleasant. Paired with food, the finish is more balanced.

Parting words: This is another “serious” rosé from a serious (but not stuffy) winery on Old Mission. 2 Lads is a relative newcomer, but they have quickly become one of the best. It’s great with food and on its own with plenty of varietal and terroir character. The 2011 vintage was very good all through Michigan. If this is any indication of what the rest of that vintage has in store, I am very excited. 2 Lads Rosé is recommended.