Rusty Sly’s Grape of the Night: Life Is A Cabernet Franc (Tonight is the next meeting, details below.)

Staff Writer Rusty SlyOnce again Grape Of The Night (GOTN) met, divided and conquered a fantastic wine varietal known as Cabernet Franc.  I apologize for requesting a wine varietal that was close to nonexistent in our Valley.  I was unaware of this and want to thank all of you who raided their cellars to leave a few bottles for those who did not have one.  I must say that we still accomplished our goal by  having examples from France and the US.

Here is a little information about this great varietal.  Cabernet Franc is believed to have originated in the Libournais of southwest France sometime in the 17th century.  Cardinal Richelieu was responsible for having cuttings transplanted into the Loire Valley.  Recent ampelographical studies (DNA fingerprinting) show that Cabernet Franc was crossed with Sauvignon Blanc to create Cabernet Sauvignon.  Cabernet Franc is one of the principal varietals in Bordeaux wines on both the Left Bank ( Cabernet Sauvignon) and Right Bank (Merlot), as well as in wines of the western Loire Valley of France.

The flavor profile of Cabernet Franc is found to be both fruitier and sometimes herbal, or vegetative, than it’s sibling Cabernet Sauvignon.  It is also lighter in both color and tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon.  As stated earlier, Cabernet Franc is typically used for blending, however, many single varietal wines are being produced in the United States as we saw at the GOTN.  The aroma and flavor profile of the Cabernet Franc wine can include raspberry, cherry, plum, strawberry, violet and bell pepper.  The list of the wines brought to the GOTN Cabernet Franc were as follows:

2008 Courtney Benham Diamond Mountain – Napa Valley

Aroma: Raspberry and violets

Taste:  Raspberry, cherry and bell pepper

2008 Ironstone – Lodi

Aroma:  Musty with a hint of sauerkraut

Taste:  Cherry and bell pepper

2007 Buttonwood – Santa Ynez

Aroma:  Musty

Taste:  Acidic and tannins.  Needs food.

2008 Elena – Sonoma

Aroma:  Plum, wood, faint floral

Taste:  Cherry and spice

2009 Val de Loire Reserve des Vignerans – France

Aroma:  Red berries and cherry candy

Taste:  Cherry and tannins

2008 La Croisee (Gerald Vallee) – France

Aroma:  Light mustiness

Taste:  Earthy and tannins.  Needs food.

2008 Palazzo – Napa Valley

Aroma:  Dark fruits, floral and creamy.

Taste:  Jammy with dark fruits.

In all, even with the difficulty of finding examples of this grape varietal in Santa Clarita, I was impressed by the resourcefulness of the members to find them.  It was a great evening.  I hope that everyone enjoyed this very unique varietal.

There have been a few differences of opinion in describing wines with regards to aroma, taste and quality.  My goal for GOTN is to get people together that have a passion for wines.  I wanted to learn and try more wines as I hope everyone that attends and expand our horizons.  Our group is very diverse with people that are collectors, wine connoisseurs, educators, chefs, cooks, as well as people that are brand new to wines.  Perceptions of wine through our senses (smell and taste) vary from person to person.  Emile Peynaud in his book, “The Taste of Wine” passes along this quote of how we should approach a wine.  ‘ “When you taste, ignore the bottle, label, and those around you; concentrate instead on yourself and on forming a clear impression of the developing sensations conveyed by the wine.  Close your eyes and use your nose, tongue and palate to see.”  So recommends Pierre Poupon.  It is the surest method of avoiding errors of judgment due to conditioning and suggestions, the two traps that can catch even the wariest taster.’  There is no right or wrong here.  We are all different and so are our perceptions of a wine.  Follow Peynaud’s recommendation and you will surprise yourself.  Dissect the many layers that a wine has to offer.  I challenge the group to try this approach.

In closing, to help everyone understand and remember the nature of the Cabernet Franc varietal, I turn to Appellation America:

Although rarely the center of attention, Cabernet Franc, your congenial nature makes you a pleasure to be with. You’re equally good company for your coarse and bitter cousin Sauvignon, as well as with the charming and curvaceous Merlot. Better yet is when you politely amuse the pair in a Meritage made in heaven. Your genteel manner has been evident since your youth. In fact, some would say you’re mature beyond your years. You are graceful and elegant, with a rather lean physique and a fresh attitude. It has been said — very discreetly of course – that your nature is a little on the perfumy side.

I would like to thank all of you that came to GOTN.  I would also like to thank Valencia Wine Company (VWC) for their hospitality.  Gino, as always, had his “A” game going.  The next GOTN will be on August 8 starting at 7PM.  The varietal will be Roussanne.  Yes, you heard it, a WHITE WINE.  The wine again must be single varietal (>85% ).  Please bring them chilled in a cooler or make arrangements with VWC.


Rusty Sly

9 thoughts on “Rusty Sly’s Grape of the Night: Life Is A Cabernet Franc (Tonight is the next meeting, details below.)

  1. Hi Rusty! I’ve got a 100% Roussanne from Edward Sellars to share tonight! Met up with him at yesterday’s Rhone Rangers LA event and loved his whole line-up! I look forward to tasting everyone’s choices tonight!

  2. Edward Sellars makes awesome wines. His white varietals are my favorite. His viognier is also spectacular.

  3. Sorry we missed this one! Cab Frank is a long time fav! Lucas and Lewellen, Alexander and Wayne, and Stephen Bedford all produce some very nice examples in Santa Inez. A bit further north try Smith Wooton or Keyton (apologies for any misspellings).

  4. I am ahead of you. I am enjoying a Midnight Cab Franc recommended by our man Vic at VWC.

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