Q1 Tasting - Cabernet Franc wines

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Tasted February 27, 2016 by MC2 Wines with 480 views

Introduction

The first wine club of 2016. Theme was Cabernet Franc which was inspired by our trip to Argentina last fall where a number of the wine makers were doing some very interesting things with the grape, and we realized we didn't know enough. As straight CF can be hard to pin down, the rule was Cabernet Franc or Cabernet-Franc dominated (>50%) blends from anywhere in the world. While the Loire was most well-represented (as might be expected), we also had ones from California, Italy, Argentina, and Washington. Wines were served blind (the person who brought the wine knew their own, but not others). I was lucky enough since Mike did the initial bagging and decanting I knew what the first five wines were, but not which was which.

To add to the fun, we repeated the 'penny vote'. Each person got five pennies which they could distribute across the wines as they saw fit (i.e. from five pennies in one wine to one penny in five wines). I've noted at the end of each note the number of pennies received.

Flight 1 - Formal Blind Tasting (15 notes)

Red
2013 Owen Roe Cabernet Franc Union Gap Vineyard USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley
Wine #1: This was probably the biggest surprise to me of the day of Cabernet Franc tasting although a better taster than I had deduced it was from Washington. It's a relatively light bodied wine compared to some of the others we had that day. Black cherry and a bit of stem and a cleanness to the approach which made it feel quite elegant. We'd opened and decanted this for about 6 hours by the time we were tasting so it had settled into a really nice spot. One of my favorites of the day although the only pennies that made it into this wine's bucket were mine so perhaps an opinion not shared by the broader group. (2 pennies)
Red
2009 Pride Mountain Vineyards Cabernet Franc USA, California, North Coast, Napa / Sonoma
Wine #2: Drank as part of a blind tasting of Cabernet Franc. Opened this about six hours before pouring and let it slow ox for that time. This was a much heavier wine than #1 (an Owen Roe CF) although they had some of the same flavors, just balanced differently. The Pride was very fruit forward - lots of black cherries to the point where it almost tasted sweet. A slightly quicker finish though on the end. Very tasty, but there were some other more nuanced wines that I liked better during the day. (4 pennies)
Red
2009 Clos Rougeard (Foucault) Saumur-Champigny Les Poyeux France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Saumur-Champigny
Wine #3: Drank this as part of a blind tasting of Cabernet Franc. My favorite of the day. While officially all of this was blind, as we supplied the first five wines I knew this was in there somewhere and was wondering if it would be possible to pull it out. Turns out the dimensions gave this one away. More of a spicy starting characteristic, with red currant, nice tannic backbone, touch of lavender and then just at the end get a touch of bell pepper on the finish. It's also has a nice acidity and the wine feels well pulled together. We'd opened and decanted this one about 6 hours before and I suspect that helped it quite a bit given we're just at the beginning of the drinking window. Really lovely. Wish we had another. (6 pennies)
Red
2011 Le Macchiole Paleo Rosso Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
Wine #4: Drank this as part of a blind tasting of Cabernet Franc. Although we opened and decanted this one for 6 hours before drinking, it still felt like a complete baby killing. Tannins were very dominant and the wine was still pretty tight. Some red currant and pepper coming through, but just hints. Interesting to see what it was on the unveil. I almost always like my Italian wine better with some age. Perhaps that applies to the CF as well? Had a similar reaction to the Antinori CF that was later in the list. We'll wait another 5-10 years for the next bottle. (2 pennies)
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
1997 Catherine et Pierre Breton Bourgueil Les Perrières France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Bourgueil
Wine #5: Drank as part of a blind tasting of Cabernet Francs. For the first time in the wines I started to pick up a touch of that cough syrup flavor, more bell pepper, a lot more vegetal than the wines that came before it (and more in line with what I expected from a CF). This wine was opened maybe an hour or so before consumption and could possibly have done better with earlier as it was still evolving quite a bit in the glass. Interesting as we had three other Catherine & Pierre Bretons in the tasting although from different vineyards (Beaumont & Nuits d'Ivresse). The 1998 Beaumont tasted many years older than this wine which was still fairly fresh even with the age. (1 penny)
Red
2008 Detert Family Vineyards Cabernet Franc Oakville USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
Wine #6: Drank at a blind tasting of Cabernet Francs. This was a recommendation from a friend whose opinion we respect in wine and it was right on. Coming on the heels of a Loire wine this was more in the fruit forward category (as most of the California wines were). Get some currant, hints of cherry cough syrup. Almost sweet at first, but then there's this great spice at the end which lends quite a bit of structure to the wine and makes it feel well pulled together. Very enjoyable and my favorite of the California wines although the group seemed to bunch them together as they all scored the same in the penny voting. (4 pennies)
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2010 El Enemigo Cabernet Franc Gran Enemigo Single Vineyard Gualtallary Argentina, Mendoza, Valle de Uco, Gualtallary
Wine #7: Drank at a blind tasting of Cabernet Franc. This wine came from the region that inspired the CF theme to begin with. It also happens to taste like the vineyard it came from. Get a bit more wet stone and slate here. While we decanted 6 hours beforehand it was still opening up in the glass. Red currant and hints of white pepper. Very tasty. (5 pennies)
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
1998 Catherine et Pierre Breton Chinon Beaumont France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Chinon
Wine #8: Drank as part of a Cabernet Franc blind tasting. Can definitely taste the age on this (interesting as we had an '97 by same producer but different vineyard that tasted MUCH younger). This was bell pepper and tobacco and leather. The fruit in the form of cough syrup that existed in '05 had faded if it ever existed. Nice wine. Good with duck. (5 pennies)
Red
1987 Olga Raffault Chinon Les Picasses France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Chinon
Wine #9: Drank as part of a blind Cabernet Franc tasting and this was the winner. Age very apparent. When first poured was almost a touch musty, but that blew off quickly. Get some leather and leaves and stems and kindof a whole cluster feel to it. Interesting wine. Enjoyed. (7 pennies)
Red
2012 Larkin Cabernet Franc USA, California, Napa Valley
Wine #10: Drank as part of a blind tasting of Cabernet Francs. This wine probably could have used a decant. Still very young and on first taste the alcohol was pretty prevalent. For my taste, could have used a touch more acidity - the fruit was very forward and it wasn't quite as balanced as I like to see. Very popular with some folks in the tasting - esp those who preferred the more fruit forward style. Tannins started to come forward after a bit, but I think this is a wine that needs some more time to pull together. (4 pennies)
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2011 Clau De Nell Cabernet Franc Anjou Rouge France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Anjou
Wine #11: Drank as part of a blind Cabernet Franc tasting. This came on the heels of a particularly fruit forward Napa version and took a moment of adjustment. It's more unripe red fruits with more of the vegetal characteristics that the Loire seems not to shy away from, but which California seems to avoid. Decent tannins to it. Many years to go. (1 penny)
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2005 Catherine et Pierre Breton Chinon Beaumont France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Chinon
Wine #12: Drank as part of a blind tasting of Cabernet Franc. For some reason I ended up pretty distracted during the tasting of this wine and I don't think I paid it the proper attention. The cough syrup and tannin combination is all I noted. I did go back to revisit when we realized that we had a '98 and '05 from the same producer/vineyard and I remember thinking it was amazing how much difference there was between the two wines. This one had quite a bit more fruit in it, was still very young tasting. None of the caramelized coffee tones of age. (3 pennies)
Red
2011 Tenuta Guado al Tasso (Antinori) Bolgheri Matarocchio Italy, Tuscany, Bolgheri
Wine #13: Tasted as part of a blind tasting of Cabernet Francs. Very young wine which is apparent almost immediately. While it was decanted, it was poured relatively quickly. Probably could have used some more time to open up and evolve. Would really love to see it again in ten years. Very well balanced already. Good fruit characteristics and nice acidity and while the tannins are dominating more now, can see it being a really lovely wine once they fade. Even now, very good and one of the favorites of the tasting. (6 pennies)
Red
1989 Olga Raffault Chinon Les Picasses France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Chinon
Wine #14: Drank as part of a blind tasting of Cabernet Franc. Coming on the heels of a baby, the maturity of this wine was clear. Seemed to be in a really nice spot right now. Fruit still there - red current and cherry cough syrup. Very enjoyable wine. The winner of the tasting was the '87 version of this. (5 pennies)
Red
2010 Catherine et Pierre Breton Bourgueil Nuits d'Ivresse France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Bourgueil
Wine #15: Drank as part of a blind Cabernet Franc tasting. From a magnum. Wine was drinking very young and probably could have used a bit more of a decant. Just a touch of alcohol on the palette. It was more fruit forward - lots of red currant. I didn't get some of the vegetal notes from the note before, but perhaps because they were very muted compared to some of the other older wines we'd tasted before. I enjoyed it. (5 pennies)

Flight 2 - Bonus Bottle (1 note)

Red
2013 Barnett Vineyards Cabernet Franc Spring Mountain District USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
Bonus: Drank at the end of a blind Cabernet Franc tasting (this bottle was not part of the official tasting but rather a 'bonus' bottle). Didn't take detailed notes on it, but remember thinking it was much much too young. Opened and decanted and poured and in retrospect we should have opened it when we opened the other wines earlier in the morning to give it more time to breathe. Like the other California it was more of a fruit dominant wine. Remember wishing there was a touch more acidity (it came on the heels of a Loire dominated line-up). Will rest the rest of the bottles and see it again in 5 or so years.

Closing

So my takeaway from this experiment is Cabernet Franc probably doesn't get enough love from us. It's a fantastic wine whether by itself or in a blend. The Loire rendition is obviously wonderful, but so were many of the others. It was interesting to see some of the similarities of wines from the same area. In general California pulls out a lot more of the fruit. Loire seems more comfortable with some of the bell pepper and other notes.

On the penny voting, all of the wines received at least some love which bodes well and there was a bit more parity in this round.

The wines in order of preference:

FIRST PLACE (7 pennies):
Wine #9: 1987 Olga Raffault Chinon Les Picasses

SECOND PLACE (2-way tie @ 6 pennies)
Wine #3: 2009 Clos Rougeard Les Poyeux
Wine #13: 2011 Antinori Guado al tasso Matarocchio

THIRD PLACE (4-way tie @ 5 pennies)
Wine #7: 2010 Gran Enemigo Gualtallary
Wine #8: 1998 Catherine & Pierre Breton Beaumont
Wine #14: 1989 Olga Raffault Chinon Les Picasses
Wine #15: 2010 Catherine & Pierre Breton Nuits D'Ivresse

FOURTH PLACE (3-way tie @ 4 pennies) aka the California crowd
Wine #2: 2009 Pride Mountain Vineyards Cabernet Franc
Wine #6: 2008 Detert Family Vineyards Cabernet Franc
Wine #10: 2012 Larkin Cabernet Franc

FIFTH PLACE (3 pennies)
Wine #12: 2005 Catherine & Pierre Breton Beaumont

SIXTH PLACE (2-way tie @ 2 pennies)
Wine #1: 2013 Owen Roe Cabernet Franc Union Gap Vineyard (those two pennies were mine so I might have been alone in the group in really liking this wine)
Wine #4: 2011 Le Macchiole Paleo

SEVENTH PLACE (2-way tie @ 1 penny)
Wine #5: 1997 Catherine & Pierre Breton Les Perrieres
Wine #11: 2011 Clau de Nell Anjou Cabernet Franc

Overall - a very good time and I'd argue no bad wines in the bunch. Looking forward to Q2.

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