Sans Ricard, I tried one of my favourite grape varieties over the Christmas period, namely Cabernet Franc. I’d bought a couple of bottles of Frederic Mabileau’s ‘Racine’ Bourgueil 2012 which the WS were selling off. Cabernet Franc has never really caught the public’s imagination, maybe because of it’s lack of beefy sweetness. In fact, it is the antithesis of those adjectives and can be rather green and lacking in generosity. But, rather like the little girl in Longfellow’s poem “When she is good, she is very, very good”.
Pale red in colour, it still retained the slight blue qualities of youth in the glass and this was carried through on the nose of primary fruit aromas, bitter cherries and a slight herbaceous quality. The mouth feel was smooth with well-integrated tannins. Dry in taste it had both a very farmyard quality and a slight grip – youth and age in a mouthful – with some gentle red fruit flavours. It was medium in length.
When in the Loire, I went to a vineyard to try the wines of the owner, a M. Gay. Amongst the many we tried, he asked for my opinion on a pure CF and a CF blended with Cabernet Sauvignon. I think he expected me to prefer the latter and was surprised to find I chose the pure CF. I explained that I thought the CF in the blend was eclipsed by the blackcurrant notes of the CS which masked the delicacy of red fruits. He understood me but seemed disappointed that his blending skills hadn’t succeeded.
The books tell us that good vintages of CF in the Loire can take ten years to mature and to lose the ‘grippiness’ of youth. I agree but, possibly because of that, it is way undervalued. Good.