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Feb 9, 2008 05:12 PM

Cabernet Franc, old world and new world

I just came home from a wine tasting at my local wine store. The Wine Country in Signal Hill, SoCal. It was a Cabernet Franc event, with a total of 11 wines. The first 7 were French, from the Loire. The last 4 were from California. I had the most amazing experience, finally understanding what folks are talking about when they say *terroir*. The French wines tasted of the earth, and a couple had a distinctive barnyard aroma, which could be intriguing or off-putting. Then, the Cal. wines came up, and OMG, now I know exactly what people are talking about when they say "fruit-forward." So, now I have a definitive understanding of the difference, and can honestly say that I like both, for very different reasons.
What I liked:
2003 Chateau de Fesles, Vielles Vignes, Anjou - it had a rich nose, and was very soft. Delicious with sharp cheese
2005 Charles Joguet, Cuvee Terroir, Chinon - definite barnyard. Once I got past that, it was very nice. Good with food.
2003 Clos Rougeard, Saumur-Champigny - Smelled of sandalwood, tasted of cedar. I loved it. Bought this one.
2005 Stepping Stone, by Cornerstone, Napa - fruit forward, simple compared to the complexity of the French wines. My family will like it with dinner. Bought this one.
2003 Wm. Harrison, Thompkin Cellars , Napa - fruit, again, but deep and lovely. I bought this one also.

So, I bought 1 of the French wines and 2 Cals. My favorite of the three is the Clos Rougeard.

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  1. Sounds like a rewarding tasting! I've always found Cab Franc to be very appealing, especially for it's aromatics.

    Another region you might find of interest: Bierzo, Spain. The wines here are made from Mencia, which was once thought to be the same as Cab Franc but DNA testing proved otherwise. One that I particularly like is Castro Ventosa Valtuille Bierzo.

    2 Replies
    1. re: pierrot

      Thanks for the Bierzo tip. I'm already googling.

      1. re: vickib

        Mencia reminds me more of a thin, non Californian Zinfandel than Cab Franc.
        It is interesting, and a great buy right now.

    2. I adore Cab Franc. Especially Pride Mountain's.

      I also like Spring Mountain's Cabernet Francisco -- it's Cab Franc but the vineyard is named after their recently deceased vineyard manager, Francisco. VERY tasty.

      1. Cab Franc is one of my favs ... If you happen to be lucky enough to wander by an Owwen Roe Cab Franc .. buy it! I've had many Joquet Chinons .. sometimes they can be of the barnyard others are not so much .

        1. Lange and Reed cab franc from Napa is outstanding. The cab franc from Page is also wonderful.

          1. cab franc is my favorite red wine, hands down. i'm an east coast girl and when i went to the virginia wine festival this year i was introduced to it via a ton of different local vineyards. apparently the soil and climate of the mid-atlantic makes for a good spot to produce the wine. yum, i recommend checking out a va cf if you are a fan.

            3 Replies
            1. re: polly parker

              Cab Franc is more often used as a blending wine (one of the 5 grapes used in Bordeaux) than as a stand alone variatal. However, Cab Franc as a stand alone variatal in France is most likely to come from the Touraine and Anjou-Saumur regions of the Loire Valley.

              Obviously, Callifornia is the largest producer of Cab Franc in the US, but there are quite a few Cab Francs from Washington State, (I particularly like those from Owen Roe and Owen Sullivan) as well as from New York.

              I do know that some Canadian wineries (Thirty Bench comes to mind) bottle a Cab Franc, however many of them use them for dessert wines.

              I don't like Cab Franc as much as I used to, but I still enjoy it occasionally, especially the Owen Roe Cabernet Franc Rosa Mystica Block and the Owen Sullivan Cabernet Franc Champoux. Pride is the largest (and to my mind best) producer in California, but the 1996 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Franc Third Century is pertty good too.

              1. re: dinwiddie

                I'm a big fan of the Owen Roe as well. Also, when Robert Keenan (CA) is available, try a bottle or two (around $40 retail). It is really excellent and ages extremely well (opened an '89 in 2003 and it was sensational).

              2. re: polly parker

                I second the general rec for Virginia Cab Francs. This grape seems to do very well in VA. Very approachable wines.

                On the white side the varietal to look for from Virginia is Viognier.