On April 13, 2015, Grape Of The Night (GOTN) met, divided and conquered a fantastic wine varietal known as Cabernet Franc.
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 of France. 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.
Cabernet Franc is often referred to as the feminine side of Cabernet Sauvignon. It is subtly flirtatious rather than being as masculine as its sibling Cabernet Sauvignon. The flavor profile of Cabernet Franc is found to be both fruitier and sometimes herbal, or vegetative, rather than that of Cabernet Sauvignon as well as being lighter in both color and tannins. It is typically used for blending, however, many single varietal wines are being produced in the United States as noted at GOTN. The nose of this varietal is very perfumy and on the palate offers softness with a little pepper. The fact that it is so aromatic is part of the reason that it is used in blending Bordeaux/Meritage wines.
In France on the Right Bank in St Emilion and Pomerol regions, Cab Franc is the most planted Cabernet. The reasoning is that this region is further inland where the soil is cool and Cabernet Sauvignon would have difficulty in ripening.
Wines of the Night:
2011 Carlson - Santa Ynez, Ca.
2010 Lang & Reed - Napa, Ca.
Saint - Nicolas de Bourgueil Les Canonieres - Loire Valley, France
2012 Writers Block - Lake County, Ca.
2009 Kenneth Volk - Paso Robles, Ca.
2011 Windmill Valley - Napa, Ca.
2010 Domaine Fabrice Gasnier - Loire, France
2013 Samur Champigny Thierry Germain - Loire, France
2008 Anjou Rouge - Loire, France
2011 Lukas & Lewellen - Santa Barbara, Ca.
2012 Chateau Margene Signature Series - Paso Robles, Ca.
NV Kathaleen Carmody-McKnight (Late Harvest) - Paso Robles, Ca.
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 everyone that attended for supporting GOTN and our continued goal to learn more about the wines that we all love. I would also like to thank Valencia Wine Company (VWC) for their continued support and hospitality.
As a side note, I was extremely honored by the birthday wishes from all that attended. Yes, April 13 was my birthday. It is such an honor to have such great friends to celebrate with. I also want to thank the proprietor of VWC, Guy Lelarge, for opening an additional Cab Franc for the group to try as well as the Petite Shirah in honor of my birthday. This was a very special day. Hope to see everyone at the next GOTN. I look forward to it.