Wine Talk

Snooth User: SdMinCH

Cabernet Franc

Posted by SdMinCH, Mar 24, 2009.

I've noticed that the cab. franc that I've tasted from N. Italy, either blended or as major grape, has a strong metallic taste (and even a smell). Is this something others have noticed and is it a character of the variety? What other wines have this grape as a major component so I can compare? I'm living in Europe, so it would be great if you could suggest French or Italian wines. Cheers!


Reply by Philip James, Mar 24, 2009.

Hey there - red Bordeaux often has Cabernet Franc in the blend, but its usually not dominant. To be honest outside of the US, its rarely a varietal wine.

However, in some parts of the Loire you can get it solo:

"central Loire appellations of Chinon and Bourgueil -- the grape (known there as Breton) makes leaner, fresher styles of Cabernet, designed for earlier consumption."
I borrowed that from the Cabernet Franc page:

Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Mar 24, 2009.

I'd like to add Saumur-Champigny to Philip's list of French Cab Franc appellations to look for.

In N. Italy, and particularly, Friuli, there's a lots of Cab Franc often grown for high yields which really brings out the herb and green pepper characteristics at the expense of the red berry fruit flavors. This is probably the metallic taste and smell that you encountered. Try to seek out a premium Cab Franc from Collio or Colli Orientali del Friuli to key into its varietal character.

Be careful because many Italian reds labeled simply "Cabernet" can be a blend of Cab Franc and Cab Sauvignon.

Reply by wineluv, Mar 24, 2009.

Cab Franc! I just tried "Domaine Gouron 2005 Chinon Terroir" and it was quite tasty for $19.
As Philip mentioned above, Chinon and Bourgueil in Loire Valley are the main regions producing red wines 100% from Cab Franc. The typical wine is vegetal and herbaceous with aromas of bellpepper and violet. Wines from these areas should be accessible if you're in Europe,, well it depends where in Europe I guess,,

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Mar 24, 2009.

Well first you have to ask yourself what is this Cabernet Franc grown in Northern Italy? Until recently Italian producers didn't have to distinguish between Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Labeling the wine as Cabernet was sufficient.

Then the labeling laws changed and producers were forced to find out what was really in their vineyards. A lot of Cabernet Franc grown in Northern Italy is in fact Carmenere and a bit of it is even Petit Verdot!

That is a great little factoid but it may be beside the point here. I would also suggest Cabernet Franc from the Loire. I just mentioned 2 of my favorite producers in today's email, Baudry and Joguet. Somewhat more difficult to find but certainly more minerally would be the wines of Olga Rafault and the Cabernet Touraine from Clos Roche Blanch may be just what you are after.

Reply by deconut, Mar 24, 2009.

Not Italian but I just had to through in my 2 cents - you must try Pulenta 2005 Gran Cabernet Franc - an amazing wine from Argentina - found it several months ago at $20, now it is selling for $28 and above - excellent Cab Franc!

Reply by GregT, Mar 25, 2009.

"there's a lots of Cab Franc often grown for high yields which really brings out the herb and green pepper characteristics at the expense of the red berry fruit flavors."

Not quite. That green pepper flavor is the result of a particular molecule. And that molecule, a methoxypyrazine, is destroyed by UV rays. So if you grow related wines like cab sauv, merlot, or cab franc, and you do not have sufficient sun to provide the UV rays, you get that herbal and green pepper note. You can control it by canopy management - pulling off any leaves that might shield your grapes, or by planting in an area that gets plenty of sun. the Loire and Bordeaux are both pretty cloudy areas, so you get those flavors in their wines. In a ripe year like 2005 or 2007, the Loire produces wines in which those flavors add interesting accents rather than dominate the flavor profile.

Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Mar 26, 2009.

@GretT - But wasn't that my point? In Northern Italy, many producers take a volume production approach to Cab Franc with little regard for canopy management.

I'm thinking that's why SdMinCH didn't like the Cab Franc he/she's been drinking so far.

Reply by GregT, Mar 26, 2009.

OK. Just pointing out that its the growing, not necessarily the yield that makes that particular dif. But if you were including that I'm in agreement w you. Just had a conversation about that w someone a few minutes ago as a matter of fact. In the end, some people may not like it anyway, but cab franc probably comes in a lot of variable packages and I agree she should try more. Best.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Mar 27, 2009.

I am not fan of Pyrazines in my wine. I seem to be quite sensitive to it and, oddly, i don't get desensitized to it while drinking a wine rich in pyrazines but rather it builds to the point of becoming offensive. Having said that a little in a beautifully ripe Chinon can add alot.

Canopy management is an interesting point in regards to Northern Italy. Many of the producers in Trentino for example use the Pergole Trentina canopy. One of the reasons for this is the easy with which the canopy can be manipulated. Once you go to guyot it gets more challenging to manage the canopy correctly for the appropriate level of exposure throughout the day. Several of the old-timers smirk when the younger generation tries guyot, again. The know that while there are advantages to both there is a reason why Pergola Trentina is still around.

Reply by jjknight38, Mar 29, 2009.

I have to agree with RBoulanger and the Collio recommendation. They make a great blend called Rosso Riserva, a blend of Cabernetab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.They make a true 100% Cabernet Franc which I would love to try.Fair warning though because I did get notes of vegatation and on my 2001 Riserva which was reminiscent of a Chilean Carmenere. Salud!

Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Mar 30, 2009.

jjknight - funny you detect Chilean Carmenere...

Are you aware that after the confusion of Carmenere/Merlot in Chile came out in the 1980s and 1990s, it was revealed over the past decade that Carmenere exists in northeast Italy where it is confused with... none other than Cabernet Franc?

About 10,000 acres of Carmenere have been "discovered" in northeastern Italy and, although it doesn't qualify for varietal DOC/IGT wines, it is often in the blends in the Veneto and Friuli. I wonder if more recent vintages of that Riserva mention the Carmenere.

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