Wednesday, April 02, 2008

WBW44 - French Cabernet Franc

Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stainèd mouth;
John Keats, Ode to a Nightingale

This month, Wine Blogging Wednesday is hosted by Gary Vaynerchuk at Wine Library TV. He's chosen French Cabernet Franc. Reasonably easy (I'd hazard) for those of us in the UK. However, Cabernet Franc isn't one of the big, famous grapes in France (think Burgundy - Pinot Noir, Bordeaux - Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, the Rhône - Shiraz and Grenache).

Instead, Cabernet Franc's homeland is the Loire Valley, perhaps better known for its Sauvignon Blancs from Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, or the Muscadets from the Nantais, or its Chenin Blanc from Touraine and Anjou-Saumur. There's kind of a white wine pattern emerging there ...

The prinicpal areas (or appellations contrôlées, hereafter ACs) for Cabernet Franc in the Loire are Chinon AC and Bourgeuil AC. Chinon has the slightly higher reputation, I believe. And it was a bottle of Chinon that I bought - a 2005 Charles Joguet Cuvée Terroir.

This was a gorgeous wine: big, fat, dense purple sploshes of it spilled from the bottle into my glass. The nose was quite vegetal: green peppers, blackberry leaf, with hints of both red and black fruit (red fruit became more prominent over the course of the bottle). Acid and tannin were in balance and, given the colour of the wine and the amount of fruit, I wouldn't be in a particular hurry to drink it - although I'd be tempted to keep my eye on it over the course of a year or two, rather than cellar for a decade! It tasted very much like it smelt, with more fruit. The tannins were quite grippy but otherwise this was a smooth wine, savoury with very good length. As you'd expect with a wine of 14% alcohol, there was plenty of body.

Big, thick, purple tears hung in the glass.

There was a lot of lip smacking and I enjoyed it immensely. We drank it with a broccoli and stilton soup - not the most intuitive of matches, I'll concede, but the Stilton softened the tannins and the weights (thanks to the cream and cheese in the soup) were quite evenly matched.

I'll definitely be drinking this wine again - so I'd like to thank Gary for suggesting something interesting from a region better known for its whites.

1. Charles Joguet, 2005 Cuvée Terroir, Chinon AC, £9.99 from Hoults (Leeds).

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