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Wine Focus - Wine 301: Cabernet Franc

by David M. Bueker » Thu Jul 01, 2021 8:34 am

Wow, July snuck up on me!

We're headed into the next segment of 2021 Wine Focus, with three months of grapes that have built their reputations on wines from particular, sometimes smaller, regions.

We'll start with Cabernet Franc, which built its reputation on the right bank of Bordeaux, as well as in the Loire Valley. It's expanding its reach these days, with excellent examples from too many places to count, from the Pacific Northwest to Virginia, to Patagonia.
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Re: Wine Focus - Wine 301: Cabernet Franc

by Jenise » Thu Jul 01, 2021 1:28 pm

Shucks, if I'd realized this was coming up I'd have held back my notes on the six-bottle tasting we did with friends last week.

But in the meantime, a thought: I don't buy enough cabernet franc. And what I do acquire gets scarfed up pretty quickly, relatively speaking, while I own tons of cabernet sauvignon which I don't get around to as often as I think I'm going to given that on a daily basis for food pairing my choices these days I'm far more likely to reach for a white or light-medium bodied pinot or tempranillo.

In numbers, per Cellar Tracker, I own 138 bottles of cab sauv and 10 of cab franc. But do I like cabernet sauvignon better than I do cab franc? No! I enjoy them pretty equally. I just tend to buy what shows up in front of me and cab franc shows up far less often, though it grows well in my state.

I'm going to have to go shopping.
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Re: Wine Focus - Wine 301: Cabernet Franc

by David M. Bueker » Thu Jul 01, 2021 1:54 pm

I have about 60 bottles of Cabernet Franc. Well over half are Baudry.
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Re: Wine Focus - Wine 301: Cabernet Franc

by Jenise » Thu Jul 01, 2021 2:07 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:I have about 60 bottles of Cabernet Franc. Well over half are Baudry.


Wish I'd said that. :) Seriously, my local easy source of Baudry wines went away and I haven't made a point of locating more. I believe '09 or '10 was the last vintage I purchased.
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Re: Wine Focus - Wine 301: Cabernet Franc

by David M. Bueker » Thu Jul 01, 2021 2:53 pm

2009 and 2010 Baudry are so good now!
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Re: Wine Focus - Wine 301: Cabernet Franc

by Dale Williams » Thu Jul 01, 2021 3:27 pm

That got me curious and I searched CT for "Cabernet Franc" in my cellar. All Loire (mostly Baudry, Olga R, Breton, Joguet, a few others) except for the 1975 Ridge Monte Bello- which is 96%CS/45 merlot ) -strange
Was supposed to do a Rougeard/Baudry tasting last night, but no one had appetites for reds in heatwave, postponed.
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Re: Wine Focus - Wine 301: Cabernet Franc

by David M. Bueker » Thu Jul 01, 2021 4:39 pm

Dale Williams wrote:That got me curious and I searched CT for "Cabernet Franc" in my cellar. All Loire (mostly Baudry, Olga R, Breton, Joguet, a few others) except for the 1975 Ridge Monte Bello- which is 96%CS/45 merlot ) -strange
Was supposed to do a Rougeard/Baudry tasting last night, but no one had appetites for reds in heatwave, postponed.


I had a bunch of Cabernet Sauvignon/Sauvignon heavy blends come up in my search as well. Not sure what's going on there.
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Re: Wine Focus - Wine 301: Cabernet Franc

by Tim York » Fri Jul 02, 2021 4:56 am

Chinon is a locus classicus for Cabernet Franc but this one does not show it at its best for my palate.

2004 Charles Joguet Chinon Clos de la Dioterie - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Chinon (01/07/2021)
This wine has a severity which is not typical of Chinon or even of Dioterie itself, but is typical of the vintage. My previous bottle was opened about 5 years ago and, while the aromas have opened up somewhat since then, the wine's austere character is unchanged. Palate was medium+ bodied, showing savoury fruit, earthy minerals, fresh tangy and leathery acidity encased in still marked tannic structure. Blind, I would take this for a robust bougeois left bank claret from a cool vintage. There is none of the gracious elegance which I associate with Dioterie's best vintages. Good in its way, though.
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Re: Wine Focus - Wine 301: Cabernet Franc

by David M. Bueker » Fri Jul 02, 2021 10:46 am

If I recall correctly, Joguet had an uninspiring period in the first decade of this century. Their 2005s and 2006s are also rather mediocre compared to others.
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Re: Wine Focus - Wine 301: Cabernet Franc

by Tim York » Fri Jul 02, 2021 12:21 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:If I recall correctly, Joguet had an uninspiring period in the first decade of this century. Their 2005s and 2006s are also rather mediocre compared to others.


Yes, that is the generally held view; from mid 90s to mid 00s. That said, I thought that their 96 Dioterie, Chêne Vert and Varennes du Grand Clos were great until about 5 years ago when a bretty streak started becoming obtrusive and I have enjoyed some 00s, 02s (but uneven bottling here), 06s and even 03s much more than this 04. The Genet family effectively took over around the mid 00s vowing to clean up the wines. I hope they are not doing it too thoroughly!

PS: the estate is now asking over €40 for recent vintages of Dioterie and Chêne Vert and over €60 for a Varennes 2008 :shock:. I think I paid about the same number in FRF for my bottles in the late 90s!
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Re: Wine Focus - Wine 301: Cabernet Franc

by David M. Bueker » Sat Jul 03, 2021 8:15 pm

  • 2011 Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Franc de Pied - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Chinon (7/3/2021)
    Deep as the Mines of Moria, this has a penetrating quality where the aromas and flavors become images in the mind, and not just the impressions of the senses. It is clearly Cabernet Franc, but it transcends Chinon, reaching towards a singular expression that defines a place, rather than being merely of a place. There is fruit, and tobacco, as well as an earthy quality, but it’s the sum of the parts that is different, that’s larger in its being.
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Re: Wine Focus - Wine 301: Cabernet Franc

by Jenise » Sun Jul 04, 2021 5:52 pm

2020 Château de la Bonneliere Chinon Rive Gauche Rose Cabernet Franc
Asked my favorite local retailer for any cab franc roses among the many pinks he's got in right now--none. And then I found this at a little Mediterranean market nestled among the saperavi's and retsinas. Most roses don't really smell like the red wines they derive from, but this one has real cab franc character of brambly red fruit and savory herbs. Shows ample sweet fruit on the palate but finishes dry. Doesn't get much better for $13. I bought two of the four they had--better stop in this week and rescue the remaining bottles.

2014 Idiot's Grace Cabernet Franc Idiot's Grace Vineyard Columbia Gorge
Opened this a day later. Perfumed nose ruins everything right off the bat, and the flavors bear no resemblance to cab franc as we know and love that grape. More like a thick Nero d'Avola, a grape I dislike, and thus a total disconnect between what it's turned into and the Burgundian-ish wine it started out as all those years ago. Fed it to the rhodies; thank god it's my last bottle.
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Re: Wine Focus - Wine 301: Cabernet Franc

by John S » Sat Jul 10, 2021 3:39 pm

A real chameleon wine over the last two nights. Both versions displayed, class, purity and balance.

  • 2009 Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Les Grézeaux - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Chinon (2021-07-10)
    The first night, the nose was all 'merde', and I suspect some of the cows had grazed underneath a cherry orchard. The palate did not show this note very much, and offered a panoply of red fruits, mainly cherries, raspberries and a bit of pomegranate. It was on the light-medium bodied spectrum, and offered a very pretty, elegant, dare I say a Burgundian style of cab franc. The second night this turned into a completely different wine: no hint of bretty notes at all, and it morphed into a medium bodied, deeper, darker coloured and flavoured wine that reflected a Bordeaux style. There was a mix of deeper redfruits and even some blackfruits as well. I'm not sure which version I preferred, but this can last many more years, and I'd decant for about 2 hours if you don't want to wait. Beautiful wine. (A-/A)
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Re: Wine Focus - Wine 301: Cabernet Franc

by David M. Bueker » Sun Jul 11, 2021 8:17 am

Appreciate the Grezeaux note. I have been eyeing a bottle, but may just wait. I have other Cab Franc to drink.
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Re: Wine Focus - Wine 301: Cabernet Franc

by Tim York » Mon Jul 12, 2021 6:49 am

I'd love to post on a Cabernet Franc from outside the Loire valley but alas I have none in my cellar. I have a couple of bottles of Château Figeac 00, where CabFranc makes up about one-third of the vines, but I doubt if they have yet reached their peak. In the past I have had excellent CabFranc from Friuli, South Africa and Tuscany (Vignamaggio) but my one experience from California (Joseph Swan) was disappointing.

So back to the Loire valley. It's from Saumur-Champigny where the wines tend to be fuller and more tannic than those from Chinon about 30 km to the east. It's another 2004 like the Joguet Chinon on which I posted recently but it is much more enjoyable being uncharacteristically more gracious and less tannic than its neighbour. René-Noël Legrand is a retiring and little known grower but I have always found his wines very satisfying and classy and their enjoyability is enhanced by very friendly prices :D .

2004 René Noël Legrand Saumur-Champigny Les Rogelins - France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Saumur-Champigny (11/07/2021)
This is even better and more elegant than my last bottle about 4 years ago. It showed similar fragrant bouquet and linear shaped palate full of gracious and mature raspberry tinged fruit fully integrated with discreet poivron and fine minerals touches leading to a long fragrant finish supported by ripe backbone. IMO this punches in the same league as much GCC claret from somewhere like Margaux. Very good.
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Re: Wine Focus - Wine 301: Cabernet Franc

by Peter May » Mon Jul 12, 2021 9:21 am

202107109_Weekend-wines-sun-2.jpg
202107109_Weekend-wines-sun-2.jpg (152.19 KiB) Viewed 6355 times


2017 Château de Pitray Cuvée Cabernet Franc ( Bordeaux, Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux)

An unusual 100% Cabernet Franc claret, and a real beauty. Perfect drinking now, good colour, softened fruit flavours but with a core. It's a new-world level of abv at 14%
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Re: Wine Focus - Wine 301: Cabernet Franc

by Tim York » Mon Jul 12, 2021 9:53 am

That's an interesting one, Peter. I can't see an appellation name on that front label, which suggests that it may be declared as Vin de France or something similar.

I read in the RVF that an increasing number of Bordeaux producers are branching out from well trodden paths to make cuvées with varietal compositions forbidden by the appellation rules. I bought one such cuvée a couple of days ago which is 100% Malbec but it does claim Bordeaux Supérieur on its front label :? .
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Re: Wine Focus - Wine 301: Cabernet Franc

by Peter May » Wed Jul 14, 2021 1:01 pm

Tim York wrote:That's an interesting one, Peter. I can't see an appellation name on that front label .


No, but on the back label is AC - Côtes de Bordeaux

Pitray is a favourite of The Wine Society and they regularly have the standard Bdx blend and their Madame bottling

https://www.chateau-pitray.com/en/look-feel-enjoy/
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Re: Wine Focus - Wine 301: Cabernet Franc

by David M. Bueker » Sun Jul 18, 2021 3:48 pm

2010 Catherine et Pierre Breton Bourgueil Franc de Pied - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Bourgueil (7/18/2021)
Last bottle of three I bought on release. The first was delicious, the second a bretty train wreck. This one is excellent, showing some softness, so I am glad to be drinking it now. Earth, herb, red cherry and a little bit of cinnamon stick on the nose, is followed by fresh acidity, tart fruit and more cinnamon on the palate. At the back there is a hint of fresh cloth band-aid (not a plastic strip), but it's a clean note that adds complexity rather than detracting.

I don't find the same depth to this wine as with the Baudry FdP, but it's a very fine wine on its own terms.
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Re: Wine Focus - Wine 301: Cabernet Franc

by kasey.dubler » Tue Jul 20, 2021 10:43 am

Jenise wrote:2014 Idiot's Grace Cabernet Franc Idiot's Grace Vineyard Columbia Gorge
Opened this a day later. Perfumed nose ruins everything right off the bat, and the flavors bear no resemblance to cab franc as we know and love that grape. More like a thick Nero d'Avola, a grape I dislike, and thus a total disconnect between what it's turned into and the Burgundian-ish wine it started out as all those years ago. Fed it to the rhodies; thank god it's my last bottle.


Sad to hear this about Idiot's Grace wines. I remember when I lived up there 10 years ago now really liking both their CF and Riesling.
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Re: Wine Focus - Wine 301: Cabernet Franc

by Jenise » Tue Jul 20, 2021 2:01 pm

I too was an instant fan of the CF--very Loire-ish for Washington. And later, I liked this very much when they did a dinner at Hundred North. Bought six, also their Dolcetto, a grape I've never liked before. The Dolcetto aged amazingly, matured early but with all the leathery/raisiny wonderment of aged Italian wine. And the CF? Couldn't age at all. Entirely the reverse of expectations.
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Re: Wine Focus - Wine 301: Cabernet Franc

by Tim York » Fri Jul 23, 2021 8:55 am

This one is far from typical of Loire CabFranc in the 90s and 00s because of the unusually hot conditions of the vintage. Maybe recent vintages will develop more in this manner but I can't confirm this as I haven't tasted Alliet's range in recent years since I left Belgium where it was regularly on show at a caviste's annual tastings.

2003 Philippe Alliet Chinon Coteau de Noiré - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Chinon (22/07/2021)
There has been some evolution in this wine since my last bottle about 6 years ago. It is still bears the imprint of a very warm vintage being fuller, richer and more round than is typical for this Chinon cuvée but the fruit has become more subtle with less primary black currant and there was a faint note of antique wax which could indicate the presence of VA. This brightness helped to shift the balance slightly away from the sugary undertow which I noted before. Still very good but, if I had more bottles, I would be inclined not to hang on to them too long.
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Re: Wine Focus - Wine 301: Cabernet Franc

by David M. Bueker » Fri Jul 23, 2021 9:29 am

Interesting note Tim. I have a bunch of 2003s from various European regions, and rarely reach for them. Might have to rectify that soon.
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Re: Wine Focus - Wine 301: Cabernet Franc

by Jenise » Fri Jul 23, 2021 12:48 pm

Opened a local wine the other night, a 2018 Structure Cellars Cab Franc from Washington's famed Red Willow Vineyard. This is a winery I like a lot, their style is very non-interventionist and they like acidity. But I didn't love this one, might feel differently in two or more years when the tannins integrate but for right now it just seems kind of raw.
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