Regular readers of Roger's Grapevine will be well aware of The Wine Guy's strong preference for Italian wines and cuisine. They might not be as aware of my longtime affection for Cabernet Franc. This sassy, country bumpkin of the cabernet family, to me, offers a special raw, in your face, delight in wine drinking. In most places its role is as a blending grape and usually in a very minor capacity. However small its contribution, such is my love for its subtle but distinct flavorings that I usually seize upon its presence. The more it is utilized, the more I will return to discover what has become for me, a favorite varietal.
It's not often that you find Cabernet Franc as a single varietal or as the dominant informing grape. Part of the reason for that may be the simple fact that it's a challenge for the winemaker not to let some of the sass and rough edges of this grape overtake and dominate the bottle. But when it's done well, that same sassiness and roughness can provide a subtle accent of flavor that makes a Cabernet Franc wine a treasure to enjoy and savor. One might compare it to a blend of spices used as a rub on a superbly aged and tender steak.
The spices can easily overpoer the steak if not properly applied or if the steak is not properly prepared. However, when everything is done properly, there's nothing quite like the flavorful, almost orgasmic sensation that occurs on your palate when you take that first bite.
That's how I feel about the much abused Cabernet Franc. For the many, many examples I found that were a little harsh and overdone, the ones that I've found that have been done well were worth the search for their unique enjoyment. When done right, this is one of the best wines to pair with beef.
One of my recent discoveries was made during my two month sojourn in Ecuador. It was a 70% Cabernet Franc/30% Carmenere blend from Chile. The producer, Vina San Raphael, is located in the diverse Valle de Maule of Chile and is a fairly recent player, having begun wine production in 1998. They are more well know here in Ecuador for their box wines and secondly, for their olive and olive oil production. Among their bottle brands is Oveja Negra (Black Sheep) which includes a couple of unique white blends as well my acclaimed discovery of their hand harvested, estate bottled, reserved, Cabernet Franc/Carmenere blend. This wine offers bright red and black current flavors accented by a mineral nose, a hint of cocoa, spice accents that include clove, cinnamon and white pepper all rolling into an almost leathery, chewy finish. It is a delightful wine for the dyed in the wool Cabernet Franc fan.
Cabernet Franc is not for everyone, but it may be for you. Do some sampling and exploration and be patient. The really good unique wine you've been searching for may be sitting out there waiting for you with a good share of well produced Cabernet Franc in the bottle. Enjoy!
About The Author:
"Roger, The Wine Guy" is Roger Yazell, CWS. He is a member of the International Wine Guild and has had a long time admiration of wine. After careers in broadcasting, advertising and marketing account management, he explored his love of wine in hospitality, wholesale and retail sales. The intent of Roger's Grapevine is to share stories, history and information that will add to the reader's love, enjoyment and appreciation of wine and sake'.
Questions, requests for topics and comments are always welcome via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Note: The Wine Guy is currently undergoing chemotherapy and this blog will be on hiatus for the duration and into a recovery period. The Wine Guy is planning to celebrate his recovery with a trip to the two wine producing regions in Argentina and that should provide for some interesting new blogs. Meanwhile please enjoy the archives and feel free to email in the interim.)