.I. Brand and Family’s Dreamy Cabernet Franc 2016

When things get back to normal and we get the all-clear to go out and about again, we can happily visit tasting rooms and linger over a well-made Old Vine Mourvedre or a crisp Chardonnay. Ian Brand makes these and quite a few other wines. With his three wine labels, I. Brand and Family, La Marea and Le P’tit Paysan, there are plenty to choose from. Settling in the Monterey area, Brand recognized the potential of the land for growing high-quality grapes. He set to work doing just that!

I. Brand and Family Cabernet Franc 2016 ($30) has real backbone. With its heavy concentration of black fruit from the Bayly Ranch in Paicines in San Benito County, and voluptuous flavors of ripe blackberry and red plum, this wine is a Cab Franc lover’s dream elixir. Bursting through are distinct aromas of bell pepper, jalapeno and a touch of cayenne—notable pepper characteristics that add robust depth. Try it with grilled steaks, chicken, fish, and portobello mushrooms—it pairs well with many foods.

Brand started Le P’tit Paysan with his wife Heather back in 2008. Le P’tit Paysan’s eye-catching labels—every one depicting a character with a rooster—make these French-inspired wines easy to spot in many local supermarkets. Moderately priced in the $20-$25 range, Le P’tit Paysan wines are a bargain. Look for Chardonnay, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, a red-wine blend called Le P’tit Pape, and others.

The Brands are busy, working hard making wine, running their tasting room, marketing their three labels, and raising their 8-year-old twins, Eleni and Isaak. In 2018, Ian Brand was awarded Winemaker of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle—a prestigious award and well-deserved recognition.

The Brands have a well-stocked tasting room on Carmel Valley Road, a delightful area to visit with many wineries and restaurants. It’s usually open from noon to 6pm Wednesday through Sunday (and by appointment). But the best way, for now, is simply to check local supermarkets and liquor stores for any of Ian Brand’s wines.

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I. Brand and Family, 19 East Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley. 359-9834, or email [email protected]. ibrandwinery.com.

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