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Getting ready for Cabernet Franc Day

What an eventful year that we have had to cope with before once again celebrating Cabernet Franc Day next Friday, December 4.

The rules have certainly changed, but wine remains a bright spot. This black-skinned grape originated in France, but now it has spread its wings and taken root in many countries.

Today we will travel from France to South Africa to Argentina and even the Finger Lakes district of New York State.

The Loire area of France is where you will find Chateau de Targe that was originally a hunting lodge owned by the personal secretary of King Louis XIV. It has stayed in the same family since 1655 and I would like to offer their 2016 Chateau de Targé that shows the raspberry, redcurrant with a touch of ripe, green pepper that this grape is known for.

Here, let me elaborate on the importance of the word “ripe”. A group of savoury flavours called methoxypyrazines, are found in sauvignon blanc and cabernet franc and if they are not from well-ripened fruit, I really do not appreciate them. Fortunately, I do not find them to any extent in the following wines, as cabernet franc happens to be one of my favourite wine grapes. $26.95 (Stock #7069).

Winemag.co in South Africa writes: “If you’re looking for vinous showboating, then Bruwer Raats and his cousin Gavin Slabbert are probably not your men. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for wines of complexity and balance that don’t play to a particular audience one way or the other, then look no further than Raats Family Wines.”

One local critic comments: “The Dolomite wines of Raats promise incredibly pure fruit and balanced elegance. The Dolomite cabernet franc shows juicy red fruit, paired with beautiful, smoky and mineral notes. A great, soft example of this underrated varietal.”

We have their 2017 Raats Dolomite Cabernet Franc that Robert Parker describes in this way: “The 2017 Dolomite cabernet franc begins red-fruited with an almost chinon-esque nose (just minus the ashy bell pepper). The nose is clean and herbal with a well-structured mid-palate. The wine is thoughtful and lighter in style with a firm tannic structure that ends with a fresh lingering finish, showing a medium to full-bodied wine; 17,269 bottles were made from grapes that were basket pressed and underwent malolactic fermentation and stainless steel tanks.” $39.50 (Stock #7192).

Our 2013 Verum Rio Elorza Patagonia Cabernet Franc should be quite wonderful at this stage of its development. It comes from Verum’s sustainably grown vineyard in the Alto Valle de Rio Negro in the region of Patagonia in Argentina.

Wine Enthusiast Magazine scores it a fine 92/100 and writes: “Cool, breezy Patagonia is the home address for this light-coloured but full-flavoured cab franc. Cherry, berry and woodsy aromas set up a firm, wide palate with lightly herbal, leafy flavours of berry fruits and chocolate. Cocoa dust and a pinch of saltiness are noted on a full finish. Drink through 2022.” $25.90 (Stock #6197).

The family that I have met on many occasions and the one that put Argentina “on the map” is responsible for 2017 Catena San Carlos 2017 Cabernet Franc. When my wife and I visited their spectacular winery, they told us that one day this might become the best known grape in Argentina. Malbec still reigns, but maybe cabernet franc is not waiting in vain.

I will let their winemaker comment: “This wine presents a purple colour with red ruby tones. The nose offers elegant aromas of spices and fresh herbs such as thyme and rosemary. Red berries, cassis and raspberries blend with layers of cedar. Enjoy with enchiladas, tomato-based pasta, dark chocolate or a cheese plate.”

Vinous rates it 92/100 and says: "Bright medium ruby-red. Classic aromatic cabernet franc nose offers blackberry, spices and violet, plus a faint hint of creosote. Concentrated, floral and energetic, delivering a wonderfully suave, fine-grained texture and a sexy oak element. The finish features building tannins and rising spicy length. A distinctly serious cabernet franc for ageing. [Alejandro Vigil, the winemaker] told me he considers this to be a perfect example of the variety." $24 (Stock #7111).

Konstantin Frank ignited a “vinifera revolution” back in 1962 that put the Finger Lakes, in New York State, in a position that today commands world attention. The 2016 Konstantin Franc Finger Lakes Cabernet Franc has a medium intensity with cranberry, raspberry, cracked pepper, dark cherry, and slight toastiness from oak. Soft earthy tannins are balanced perfectly with vibrant acidity. Oak adds layers of spicy flavours. According to their winemaker, pair with stuffed bell peppers, pork tenderloin, ribs, roast beef or chocolate fondue. I would even suggest turkey – you may, like in our house, have leftover big bird today.

Robert Parker has this to say: “The 2016 Cabernet Franc was aged for 18 months in well-used French oak. It comes in at 13.3 per cent alcohol. This puts it all together in most respects – concentration, structure and smooth, sensual texture. Powerfully built for such an inexpensive wine, it is also one in need of some time to develop.” $29.30 (Stock #6359).

Happy Cabernet Franc Day.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail mrobinson@bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm

Michael Robinson recommends 2013 Verum Rio Elorza Patagonia Cabernet Franc from theDel Rio Elorza Winery in Patagonia, Argentina

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Published November 27, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated November 25, 2020 at 12:11 pm)

Getting ready for Cabernet Franc Day

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