As I said yesterday, it’s one of those that I don’t expect many of you have heard of before. Two reasons really. Firstly when it’s used in blends it’s usually one of the supporting players. Secondly, when it is on its own, it’s usually labelled under one of the French AOCs such as Chinon or Bourgueil. But in keeping with the annoying-for-the-beginner French wine labels, it doesn’t say Cabernet Franc on the label. Useful!
They reckon it started off down in Bordeaux and then got moved to the Loire a few years later. It’s a slightly cooler climate grape than Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, so it buds/blooms/ripens that little bit earlier. Loire, being a bit further up the country is that slight bit cooler, so climate wise it works pretty well.
It’s pretty useful as a mixer down in Bordeaux blends as if the weather’s been a bit poo and your Cabernet Sauvignon hasn’t ripened properly, then at least your Cabernet Franc will have had a chance. Up in the Loire it really takes on the flavours of each different area it’s grown. In wine circles you say it “expresses its terroir”. It’s the same thing.
So what tastes are there in the grape? Well expect a softer, lighter wine, with plenty of peppery flavours. Fruits include raspberry, and flowery smells include violets (they’ll remind you of those little purple sweets you had as a kid). If it’s not quite ripe, the bell pepper and herby smells can sometimes be a bit over the top.
Let’s hope we get a nice ripe vintage then!
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