Wine Talk

Snooth User: UWSNapaLover

Cabernet Franc

Posted by UWSNapaLover, Feb 27, 2010.

So i just finished my first bottle of 100% Cabernet Franc. I have obvioulsy had this in blends before but never by itself. I dont want to base the verital on just this bottle.

What are the distictive flavors/themes of this grape.

I found it almost to be bitter

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Replies

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Reply by gregt, Feb 27, 2010.

Like every other grape the flavors depend on where it's grown. Don't be misled into thinking that a specific grape will always have identifying characteristics.

It's easier to get a false negative than a false positive.

If the grape is not ripe, it may have a green, or bell-pepper aroma and flavor. Vegetal. And it may have some aromas reminiscent of green and savory herbs. Sometimes you get that on the palate too. Sometimes you get a red-cherry kind of flavor, mostly from the acidity on your tongue.

But that's not necessarily going to happen all the time.

Cab franc grown in Italy, France, Argentina, Washington, New York, California, and Hungary can vary a lot. If you detect green pepper flavors and aromas, you can figure it's a member of the cab family. Maybe merlot or cab franc, but perhaps cab sauv or carmenere. If you don't get that, you can't rule those out.

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Reply by Lindy Hemsley, Feb 28, 2010.

I'm a fan of cabernet franc from the Loire but have learned not to open it for others unless I know they share my tastes. Some who are not used to it seem to consider it, like you, bitter and also I've had feeback that it seems austere, green, stalky, acidic and rustic. I think it is possibly an acquired taste, a matter of learning to appreciate its qualities so perhaps persevere with it. Also the right food pairing will be a factor. Some Australians are making 100% cabernet franc now and I'm interested to try that: I suspect it might be a richer, smoother style.

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Reply by Cathy Shore, Feb 28, 2010.

I live in the Loire valley so am a very regular Cab Franc drinker. As GregT says, wine made from less ripe grapes can have a slightly bitter green pepper aroma and flavour. On the other hand it can be rich and fruity with aromas of raspberries and summer fruits. Here, it very much depends upon where it is grown and the method of production.
Cab Franc grown in Chinon for example has two very different styles. Those grapes grown on the sandy areas produce wines that are light in style and weight, perfect for early drinking and with distincitve raspberry fruit flavours and aromas. Those grown on the heavier soils and tuffeau produce wines that are altogether more robust, tannic and are much more suitable for ageing.
Increasingly, winemakers here are waiting for true physiological ripeness in their grapes so we see less and less vegetal, green pepper style wines which is a good thing. We deal with a winemaker in Bourgueil called Pierre-Jacques Druet and his wines are elegant and feminine in style with tannins like velvet. And, they have beautiful ripe sweet fruit on the nose which remains there over time. These wines are not particularly representative of Bourgueil but they are delicious.

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Reply by gregt, Feb 28, 2010.

And even those riper wines from the Loire somehow seem to retain a real zesty character with a bit of a savory herb note. They're becoming some of my favorite wines and they're so cheap in comparison to many others of lesser quality. You're very lucky to live there!

Napalover - you definitely owe it to yourself to try some of the wines Cathy recommended. I took a Hungarian winemaker to a tasting last year. He grows cab franc. I introduced him to Pam Starr from Crocker and Starr, who makes a wonderful cab franc in Napa. Then to Bernard Baudry's son. Bernard is one of the star producers in the Loire. The styles couldn't have been farther apart and this guy was fascinated because neither was anything like his own wine. It's a grape with real personality and seems to me to adjust itself to it's surroundings much more than cab sauv.

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Reply by UWSNapaLover, Feb 28, 2010.

Thanks all, love the insight and feeback. This was actually a California Cabernet Franc: http://store.nexternal.com/shared/S...

I think it might be a little young too, that could have affected the wine.

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Reply by schellbe, Mar 1, 2010.

Lindy

Glad to hear you like Loire reds. I'll drink Chinon with lighter fare, but it's not in vogue, as most people like ripe fruit bombs.

I tried a number of Finger Lakes (NY) Cab Francs. When not overcropped, they can be very nice. I served a Prejean (NY) Cab Franc with scallops and diced tomato and basil. Such a wonderful match. But most people would probably reject this wine.

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Reply by napagirl68, Mar 2, 2010.

I am a California Cab Franc lover... just trying and getting into the French Loire CF's but for now...

I usually do taste some green pepper, although I also like an earthy, tobaccoey cab franc, and they can pull off here in CA. I will list some fav's... but not the vintages. In many cases, I have not tasted the current vintages, and the older ones I have may be hard to find. But here are some wineries that I have found that earthy/tobacco flavor:

My fav (i think 2002) Stonefly Cab Franc, Napa, CA

Trefethen Cab franc, napa

Arger Martucci Cab franc, napa

Georis Cab franc (most years), Carmel Valley

Lang & Reed makes cab franc, although I have mixed feelings about this wine.

I have not tasted, but want to, the La Jota and Pride Mtn. Cab francs...

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Reply by napagirl68, Mar 2, 2010.

@ UWSnapawinelover... just saw that the one you drank was Lucas and Lewellen.. I love them! I did buy some of their cab franc.. had forgotten. It is a bit young, and does have an initial tannic overload if not decanted properly. I found with this CF, I had to decant it 2-3 hours before serving. That will help a lot. Don't write them off (L&L).. and do taste some of their other wines.. I like their Mandolina Toccata (2004)

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Reply by UWSNapaLover, Mar 2, 2010.

napagirl-
I actually drank the CF over 3 nights, and it got much better each night. I had a feeling that was the case. I got this L&L from wine.woot. Already drank the Malbec and really liked it, I only have the Petite Syrah left.

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Reply by yseevictoria, Mar 2, 2010.

I have always favored French Cab Franc and the Domaine des Roches Neuves is a small winery in Saumur Champigny in the central Loire Valley, not far from Saumur. It was created in 1991, and is still run by Thierry Germain, a very talented winemaker.

The Saumur Champigny appellation in the Loire valley is perhaps not among the most well know ones, but you can find some very good wines in the area. Thierry Germain is a master of producing high quality red wines from the main Loire red grape variety: the cabernet franc. He also makes some white wine from some very old vines of chenin blanc grapes from a vineyard that he acquired in the mid-90s. He makes a few different cuvees: Terres Chaudes, Marginale, Insolite…
Cab Franc should not be drunk young, they really have to mature to give you what they have.

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Reply by Cathy Shore, Mar 4, 2010.

The appellation Saumur Champigny applies to wines made in 8 villages in and around Saumur.  Chateau Villeneuve is making excellent Cab Franc, Filliatreau in Chaintres, Domaine Hureau, Clos Cristal amongst others.  A little Cab Sauv and Pineau d'Aunis is permitted in the appellation but the wines are normally Cab Franc based.  As yseevictoria says, they really come into their own when given time to age - from 5 years onwards is a good bet. 

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Reply by mywinetutor, Mar 4, 2010.

I love a single varietal Cabernet Franc as well. Two of my favorites are Hall Winery and Stepping Stone (by Cornerstone), right there in Napa. Fantastic wines if you can find them due to their limited production. If you want to ease into a pure Cab Franc, start out with the Justification label by Justin Winery down in Paso Robels. It's about 65% Cab Franc and the rest Merlot, which will take the edge off. Yummy

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Reply by yseevictoria, Mar 5, 2010.

ah ah ah you are too funny : did you mean Paso Robles...!!!! I still prefer the French Cab. Franc, and not blended....! For my taste the Justin Winery was not showing off the true beauty of a Cab.Franc. but thanks for the suggestion.

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Reply by AdamJefferson, Mar 5, 2010.

Any thoughts on a good Loire Cab Franc vintage?

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Reply by zufrieden, Mar 5, 2010.

2005.  This was a very successful vintage for most producers - particularly in the Bourgueil, St. Nicolas de Bourgeuil and Chinon. Now you may need to be somewhat selective:  I don't buy a whole lot of this stuff - though I very much admire the work of  Amirault and others of his ilk.  Glad to see you have an interest in the very finesse-oriented wine of this region AJ!

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Reply by AdamJefferson, Mar 5, 2010.

Much appreciate the advice; time to shop a bit.

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Reply by Cathy Shore, Mar 6, 2010.

Agreeing with zufrieden - 05 was a fabulous vintage with a great late hot summer but with just enough coolness to maintain freshness in the wines rather than 2003 which was also very hot (for the Loire!) and some winemakers struggled to make balanced wines.  Some 03's are great but don't have the potential for ageing in the same way.  Look out for the 2009 wines - we had a great year, sustained good weather (with a touch of water stress) and the fruit came in clean, healthy and ripe. 

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Reply by Cathy Shore, Mar 6, 2010.

Oh, and 1989 if you can find them.  Great wines that are drinking beautifully now.

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 6, 2010.

So Cathy, have you ever had any Cotes du Brulhois reds? Someone was just pitching me about a 2005 Domaine du Bois de Simon “Les Reserves” (Cuvee Laclede) that's a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot and tannat. Think it's made or at least overseen by Christophe Avi. Since the area's in the middle of nowhere way up the Garonne towards its source, almost to Madiran or even Cahors, I perked my ears up. This is the kind of wine mystique that can still do it for me. Love the concept of the purported mix of Left Bank, Madiran and Loire styles. ;-)  And the price stateside I was hearing of $14 was a nice surprise, too.



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Reply by dmcker, Mar 6, 2010.

Sorry, here's a link to the wine:

Réserve Laclède 2005

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