Cabernet Franc: The Other King

Cabernet Franc,  what is your purpose?  Often playing second fiddle to bigger bolder Cabernet Sauvignon or acting as a blending component are the two obvious answers.  Cabernet Franc does however play a leading role in some of the more “off the beaten track” wine regions.  My friend Melissa Smits hosted a Cabernet Franc Tasting on Saturday at Vineland Estates Winery, which she appropriately titled “The Other King”.  Cabernet Franc certainly is a noble grape with huge potential in up and coming grape growing regions. These regions may need more of an introduction than the already famed regions of Bordeaux or Napa however they are not to be underestimated.  Cabernet Franc is proudly grown and drank in places like the Bourgueil, Saumur and Chinon in Loire Valley and the same is true for Canadian wine regions such as The Okanagan Valley, The Niagara Peninsula and even in Prince Edward County.  Melissa’s tasting explored this less understood grape a little further.   We tasted three flights of Cabernet Franc blind. Here are my notes:

Flight One

Wine One
2009 Pond View Cabernet Franc Rosé, Niagara, ON
Bright pink salmon colour. Smelt and tasted like an old world rosé. Aromas of dark berries and licorice. Off dry. Medium bodied. Flavours of berries and spice. Enjoyable long length.
It tasted like “more”.

Wine Two
1995 Henry of Pelham Cabernet Franc, Niagara, ON
A developed nose.  Aromas of smoke, tar, spice and meat.  Hints of rubber and must. Medium weight. Medium minus body. Flavours of tar, smoke and dried herbs. Finished with notes of the raspberry and cherry.  This was the oldest Cabernet Franc I’ve ever tasted. I thought it was still enjoyable in it’s old age, but probably wouldn’t hold on much longer.  It lasted well for 16 years in 1.5L bottle.

Wine Three
2002 Vineland Estates Reserve Cabernet Franc Niagara, ON
Developing aromas of sweet herbs, black earth, black cherry and a mineral quality I will call graphite. Medium bodied. Fine grained tannins. Flavours of leather, cedar and red fruit.  A good wine.  Still available for sale at the winery.

Flight Two

Wine Four
2007 Rafael Cabernet Franc Long Island, NY
Youthful aromas of cola, black berry and spice. Long length. This wine got cool points because it was the first wine I’ve tasted from Long Island.  But overall the youthful candied flavours made it a not so serious wine.  And that’s okay. Best enjoyed on a picnic.  Side note: stainless steel ferment.  No oak.

Wine Five
2009 Domaine de Matabrune AC Bourgueil, Loire Valley
I was a little disappointed when this wine was revealed because it lacked any interesting qualities.  Youthful. Aromas of purple fruit, dust and heavy lees. Chewy tannins.

Wine Six
2007 Henry of Pelham Cabernet Franc Niagara Peninsula, ON
Medium intensity.  Some volatile acidity – in a good way. Aromas of potpourri and red fruit. Flavours of spice.  Medium body and intensity.

Wine Seven
2007 Vineland Estates Reserve Cabernet Franc, Niagara Peninsula, ON
There was discussion on the health of this wine.  The exact fault could not be pinpointed, but it just didn’t taste right.  It could have been an isolated bottle.  I will have to make an effort to retaste this wine in the future.

Flight Three

Wine Eight
2005 Henry of Pelham Cabernet Franc Niagara Peninsula, ON
Unfortunately this wine was corked.  It is on the retaste list if I ever get the chance.

Wine Nine
2008 Santa Margherita Cabernet Franc Veneto, Italy
Big points for this wine! It was complex and clean. Very direct flavours and aromas of berries, cinnamon, clove, dried roses and violets. Medium bodied. Medium plus acidity. Red fruit finish.  An excellent food wine.  I was happy to find out is available in VINTAGES for just $12.95.

Wine Ten
2005 Vineland Estates Cabernet Franc Niagara Peninsula, ON
An intense wine. Probably the wine with the darkest flavours.  Aromas of black berry jam and chocolate lifted by VA.  Fine grained tannins. Flavours of herbs and chocolate on the palate. Lingering finish.  A good wine.

The tasting set up in the Carriage House at Vineland Estates.


About allisonvidug

Allison has been professionally passionate about wine and food for eight years. In that short time, Allison has traveled across Canada to work at some of the finest establishments focussed on premium wine, food and service. Her travels and education has allowed Allison the pleasure to live in some of Canada’s most beautiful locations such as the Okanagan Valley, Niagara Peninsula, the Southern Gulf Islands, Toronto, Lake Louise and Muskoka. Some of Allison's favourite things include; wine, gin, whisky, cheese, mushrooms, cooking, hosting, growing vegetables, cottaging and dogs. Allison has seriously invested in her education of food and drink. She is a graduate of the Food and Beverage Management Diploma Program at George Brown College. She also holds a Diploma in Viticulture and Winery Management from Niagara College. Allison has fine tuned her wine and spirit sensory skills by completing certificates with the International Sommelier Guild and the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. Allison is currently completing here WSET Diploma, one of the highest levels of wine education.
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