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Dill Pickle Smell in Cabernet Franc

celestialmundane Aug 29, 2011 03:14 PM

Recently I tasted a selection of wines from Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The nose of a few Cabernet Francs and one blend (which included Cab Franc, I think) had an assertive dill pickle note. I've found this only once before (in my limited experience) in a Marechal Foch from Nova Scotia. Can anyone explain this to me?

  1. b
    bclevy Aug 29, 2011 04:34 PM

    Each person reacts differently to cab franc, but I would primarily associate
    bell peppers or celery with the variety, rather than dill or pickle.

    2 Replies
    1. re: bclevy
      celestialmundane Aug 29, 2011 07:18 PM

      This hasn't been true of all Cab Franc I've tasted; just these from New England. It was striking that it was characteristic of all. I wondered if it was growing conditions, ripeness, etc.

      1. re: bclevy
        Bill Hunt Aug 29, 2011 09:34 PM

        In many Cab Francs, I detect a touch of bell pepper (green), though not THAT much, and then grated black peppercorns.

        Have never had an New England Cab Franc, so there could be all sorts of flavors, and aromas.


      2. b
        Brad Ballinger Aug 29, 2011 07:23 PM

        Not that terribly uncommon to find some vegetal or vegetable aromas in red wines and white wines. Including dill. I think most people just name the aroma as dill, but dill pickle could make sense as well. Some people attribute such aromas to the grape; other to oak.

        1. maria lorraine Aug 29, 2011 11:48 PM

          A knowledgeable friend in the wine industry says that volatile acidity (VA) smells like dill pickle juice to him. I've heard that several times actually.

          You can read more about pickle juice-volatile acidity here (the paragraph on ice wine, scroll down):

          and here:

          Certainly underripe grapes, pyrazines and American oak can contribute to the dill pickle-ness.

          2 Replies
          1. re: maria lorraine
            Ricardo Malocchio Aug 30, 2011 08:04 AM

            Traditionally styled Rioja (of which there is very little left) is aged for long periods in American oak which can impart a distinctive dill/dill pickle element. I love it. Try a Lopez de Heredia Vina Bosconia for a major hit of American oak, or a La Rioja Alta Vina Alberdi for just a touch of the pickle.

            1. re: Ricardo Malocchio
              maria lorraine Aug 30, 2011 10:28 AM

              Yes, dill can come from American Oak. Dill pickle juice (the aroma of the brine/vinegar) is often VA.

          2. j
            jmoryl Aug 30, 2011 09:36 AM

            Under-ripe CF has a tendency towards green pepper/leafy/herbal notes; can be OK when held in balance, but otherwise not my thing. But dill flavors are also said to result from the use of cheap American oak barrels, which I might suspect in this case. Mind you I tasted a Pinot Noir that had strong dill notes; the suspect cause was the producer switching from commercial to ambient yeast (and no new American oak was anywhere to be found). So many variables come into play.

            1. m
              MyNameIsTerry Aug 30, 2011 10:00 AM

              My guess, too would be the oak in which the wine was aged. American oak can give off this characteristic.

              1. z
                zin1953 Sep 1, 2011 02:09 PM

                Cabernet Franc (as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, too, for that mater) can have a decidedly herbaceous aroma to it -- especially when grown in too cold of a climate or grown "improperly." Back in the 1970s, Monterey County (Calif.) Cabernet Sauvignon was home to the dreaded "Monterey vege," intense aromas of green bell peppers, green beans, and -- if REALLY intense -- canned asparagus!

                That said, I personally associate "dill" more with American oak, and "dill pickle" with VA.

                Green tea and Cab Franc, however . . . .


                3 Replies
                1. re: zin1953
                  Bill Hunt Sep 1, 2011 08:00 PM

                  You folk have piqued my curiosity a bit. I have gathered a couple of Cab Francs (all New World, US), and I will need to investigate more. Herbaceousness is something that I know. A bit of "sour" from the oak is a given in some cases. Dill pickle is new to me, but I will conduct my tests, and get back with this one.


                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                    bob96 Sep 2, 2011 11:05 PM

                    No Chinon or Bourgeuil? Have always enjoyed the vegetal-green streak against the cab fruit in usually well-balanced versions.

                  2. re: zin1953
                    Klunco Nov 26, 2012 10:58 AM

                    Funny, we recently had one from the Loire and it definitely had a strong green tea (or almost even pu-erh tea) aroma. At first it was interesting, but it ended up wearing on the palate.

                  3. collioure1 Nov 25, 2012 03:42 AM

                    Gee, I thought flavor that was unique to Merlots from NE Italy! <g>

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