Lifestyle

Well, to be perfectly franc

  • Cheers to all: wine drinkers observed World Cabernet Franc Day on Tuesday

The Oxford Dictionary defines frank as being “sincere or honest, even if it may be awkward”.

It could be argued that I feel a bit awkward as I have let December 4 slip by with nary a mention.

I intend to make it up to you and suggest that you just celebrate World Cabernet Franc Day a little later this year.

On its own, this grape produces a bright and slightly pale wine, but often it is part of a blend where it offers lovely perfume.

These days DNA tells us so much and in 1997 evidence proved that cabernet franc crossed with sauvignon blanc many years ago and their offspring was cabernet sauvignon.

During a visit to Argentina, we were told that cabernet franc was their wine with the most potential in the future.

Malbec, of course, still rules the roost even though some scrumptious cabernet franc is available.

Wine critic Tim Atkin suggests enjoying the Catena 2012 Cabernet Franc between 2016 and 2021.

He awarded it 93/100 and had this to say: “The vines in this Los Indios planting at the southern end of the Uco Valley were planted as recently as 2003, but are already making a very impressive, varietally pure cabernet franc.

Deeply coloured, aromatic and refreshing, with notes of spice, blackcurrant and graphite underpinned by acidity.” $22.40.

Alpasion wines have unique labels that feature the fingerprints of the owners; the one labelled “Bill” belongs to a member of our international reinsurance business who is based here.

Alpasion Grand Cabernet Franc 2015 is a new wine in their portfolio that is aged in French bordeaux-style barrels for 12 months.

They say on their website that “cabernet franc is quite in” at the moment, so we wanted to follow the trend and come out with something different, innovative and trendy.

It offers leather, cloves, cinnamon, tobacco, prune, dark cherry, cocoa and vanilla. Like all their selections, it really is so enjoyable. $32.50.

Most of us think of Sancerre when the Loire Valley in France, or Henri Bourgeois are mentioned, but it is also an ancient place where cabernet franc thrives.

For instance our Henri Bourgeois 2016 Cabernet Franc shows hints of strawberries, cherries and wet clay.

It is not a complicated sip, but more soft, rounded and just easy drinking in a style that matches well with poultry and other light meats. $20.90.

Robert Sinskey in Napa Valley is Demeter-certified as a biodynamic producer and he comments that “while important in modern-day high-quality bordeaux, interestingly cabernet franc most likely originated from the Basque region of France sometime during the middle 1600s.

“Today, cabernet franc produces outstanding single-varietal wines across the wine-producing world”.

Robert Sinskey Vandal Vineyard Carneros 2012 Cabernet Franc shows concentrated blackcurrants on the nose with smoky pepperiness and red berries. The finish is amazingly long. $68.30.

As you may know, virtually all red wines from Bordeaux are a blend of various grapes with cabernet sauvignon being the backbone of “Left Bank” offerings (on the western side of the Gironde River).

The “Right Bank”, or eastern side, is mostly planted with merlot and this is because the cool winter winds arrive from the east, so this early-ripening grape is picked first.

This eastern side mainly consists of St Emilion and Pomerol.

“Le Englishman”, as the French refer to him, is Jonathan Maltus who is a somewhat recent arrival in St Emilion.

As a very modern-thinking — and small-production — winemaker, he is part of the “garagiste” movement; the top wines of his portfolio now have some of the highest ratings in all of Bordeaux.

Chateau Teyssier 2014 St Emilion Grand Cru does have a far greater production than one could theoretically brew in a garage and, at $39.25, it represents his largest volume offering.

I mention Teyssier as it is mostly merlot but it has a healthy dose of cabernet franc.

Wine Enthusiast magazine gave it 89-91/100 and wrote: “The palate of this attractive wine is ripe and soft. It has forward black currant fruits, very fresh acidity and just a touch of dusty dryness. It’s going to be a delicious wine in the medium-term.”

I will now head west and cross the river to visit the renowned commune of Margaux, where Château du Tertre can be found.

We have quite ample stocks of their 2009 and I should point out that, of the last 28 vintages, only four have rated slightly better in Margaux.

Du Tertre also had the great honour of being among the chosen few for the classification of 1855.

Many reviews are so complimentary when judging Du Tertre, but I would like to quote Berry Brothers & Rudd, a well-known wine house in London: “Château du Tertre’s 2009 is a fantastic gem of a wine.

“With forward, fruity, fresh red and black fruit aromas, this has wonderful concentration with layers of creamy blackberries rolling across the palate, super-silky tannins and a mocha hint at the finish adding complexity.

“I am not going to sit on the fence here. This is the best wine Château du Tertre has ever made.”

As expected in this area, the majority of the blend is cabernet sauvignon, but 15 per cent cabernet franc adds much to its character.

Now ten years old, it has had sufficient time to develop and represents a real class act. $96.25.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail mrobinson@bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George(York Street, 297-0409). Visit www.wineonline.bm