Every winery has that one special blend that is their crown jewel. Winemakers want to make sure that you’re getting a chance to taste something of theirs that is completely unique and will set them apart from other wineries. These wines are carefully crafted and perfected over the years, and often evolve a little with each vintage. Some will retain the same grape varietals across each vintage while the percentages will vary, some might find a blend that works once and never change a thing, and others may change their blend completely each year! But they’re always made to please, and they never fall short. Don’t be surprised if these signature blends become your favorites and you end up walking away with an armful! I wish I could write about all of my favorites, but then this post would be a novel. Let’s narrow it down to three: Fabbioli Cellars “Tre Sorélle”, Delaplane Cellars “Cinq6”, and Zephaniah Farm Vineyard “Three Captains Red”.
Fabbioli Cellars: 2015 Tre Sorélle
35% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Petit Verdot
This is my Dad’s favorite wine ever – if you sit next to him at a tasting at Fabbioli Cellars he’ll sing its praises to you whether it’s on the lineup or not! It’s definitely one of my favorites as well. I tend to swoon over a full-bodied Merlot, so this one being a beautiful blend of Merlot, Cab Sauv, and Petit Verdot is right up my alley. It has a nice fruit forward flavor with the Petit Verdot in there.
This is Doug Fabbioli’s signature Bordeaux Blend, and while he sometimes switches up the grape varietals each vintage, the grapes he selects are always all 100% estate grown. His first vintage of this blend was 2004 and the current release is 2015. The name, Tre Sorélle means “Three Sisters” in Italian (a tribute to his wife and her sisters).
Tasting notes: “…the nose opens with hints of vanilla followed by earthy cherries and warm smokiness. Hardy black cherries are found in the front of the palate with berries and caramel towards the end accented by stronger tannins on the finish.”
Zephaniah Farm Vineyard: 2013 Three Captains Red
46% Cabernet Franc, 45% Chambourcin, 9% Cabernet Sauvgnon
This blend will have you leaving with a few bottles and coming back for more. The vintage I am hanging onto right now is 2013, but their current release (2015) just won a Gold Medal in the 2018 Loudoun Wine Awards! The 2015 blend is 39% Chambourcin, 33% Cabernet Franc, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Petit Verdot.
Like the name of the winery, the name “Three Captains Red” is a tribute to owner Bill Hatch’s grandfather, Zephaniah, who ran a steamship company in California.
Pro tip: try a glass of this straight out of the bottle, and then decant it through the Winebreather Carafe to taste the difference this decanter can make! Starts out delicious and gets even better! Bonnie (Bill’s wife and co-owner/manager) introduced me to this decanter and I love it!
Tasting notes: They prefer not to impact your experience by providing tasting notes because they don’t want to limit how you taste the wine. But Bonnie says “…in my opinion the Three Captains Red is a 10 o’clock at night wine – big flavor, smooth and does not need food.”
Delaplane Cellars: 2015 Cinq6
36% Cabernet Franc, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 7% Syrah, 6% Petit Verdot
I visited Delaplane Cellars for the first time this summer, and this particular blend became an instant favorite. I’d recommend this to my white wine lovers out there who are breaking into the bolder, dryer flavors that red wines offer. This is definitely a good gateway red. Very smooth, and full of flavor, but not too heavy.
We seem to have a trend here of naming these flagship wines with numbers – “Cinq” is of course French for “Five”, and the name of this wine is a reflection of the five different French varietals used in this blend: Cab Franc, Cab Sauv, Merlot, Syrah, and Petit Verdot. The “6” part of the name is because this is their sixth vintage of this particular blend.
Tasting notes: “…notes of spice and fruit which creates a lively, light-bodied wine which pairs nicely with Friday pizza night.”