Wine Blogging Wednesday #44: French Cabernet Franc

By Kori ~ April 2nd, 2008.

Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV is our host for this month’s edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday. For those that are not familiar with WBW, it is the monthly event in which wine bloggers come together to all post on the same theme on the same day. Gary selected French Cabernet Franc as our theme for April.

If you are inspired to go to your local wine shop to try some French Cabernet Franc as well, remember that you will not find a bottle of wine that specifically says “French Cabernet Franc.” France, and most countries in Europe, generally does not put the varietal name on their wine bottle labels as we do here in the United States. Therefore, you have to know something about their wine regions to know what varietals you will find there. This can make “Old World” wine buying difficult for those that are just beginning their journey in the world of wine.

20080402_frcabfranc.jpgFrench wines made predominately with Cabernet Franc can be found in a number of different regions. However, the most well-known are Chinon and Bourgueil in the Loire Valley. We decided to have one of our private tasting dinners and blind taste a Chinon and a Bourgueil against each other. To be honest, we did not particularly care for either one. The Bourgueil was decent and probably would merit another try sometime down the road, but this particular Chinon was quite disappointing. We were probably drinking both of these wines too early as they should open up and show more complexity with some age.

Cabernet Franc is most often used as a blending grape along with other red grapes, usually Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. I personally think it is at its best when used to add another dimension in these blends rather than as a stand-alone varietal. But if you are a fan of earthy, vegetal wines, this could be a varietal for you to explore.

2006 Catherine & Pierre Breton “Trinch!” Bourgueil: Deep ruby with vegetal aromas along with hints of earth, licorice, and a faint note of turpentine. Strawberries mixed with a little earth dominate the palate. Well-balanced with a medium finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Esquin (Seattle), $17.99; (New York), $17.99

2005 Charles Joguet Chinon Les Petites Roches: Dark, dense purple but slightly hazy. Radishes, earth, smoke, and mint are present on the nose. Predominately vegetal flavors, especially olives. Dull and boring. A mercifully short finish since it has a horrible aftertaste.
Quality: 2 stars (out of 5)
QPR: NR (not recommended)
Where to Buy: Esquin (Seattle), $21.99; (New Jersey), $17.59

Filed under: Cabernet Franc, French Wine, Red Wine, Wine Blogging Wednesday, Wines NOT To Buy (1 & 2 Star), Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Bottled Up | April 3rd, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    I must say that I absolutely loved the Charles Joguet Chinon – Les Petites Roches. We had a bottle for the table with a bunch of varied dishes at The Stumbling Goat, and though the dishes ranged from duck to ling cod to vegetarian, the wine was extremely food friendly – marrying with all of the different flavors. Also, the vegetal components are typical of the varietal, and not a fault or sign of being green. Vegetal wines are definitely not for everyone, but do not underestimate what that can become with food. Kori, at least I know what not to serve you from my cellar.

  2. Kori | April 4th, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Bottled Up. One of the great things about wine is that there are so many different wines and styles, there is something for everyone. While the Charles Joguet Chinon was not for me, I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it. Just to clarify, though, I did not mean to imply that Cab Franc’s vegetal components were an indication of either a fault in the wine or of it being young. I do think that both of these wines are young and could benefit from some aging but not because of their vegetal aromas/flavors. As I said before, I would even be willing to try the Bourgueil again down the road. See you at Taste Washington!