Wednesday, April 2, 2008

WBW #44: French Cabernet Franc

Gary Vaynerchuk, director of Wine Library and the face behind Wine Library TV, is hosting this edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday. His theme is quite simple: drink a French Cabernet Franc and talk about it.

Thanks to a tip from Brooklynguy, I was able to find a good stash of 2001 Domaine des Roches Neuves Saumur-Champigny Terres Chaudes late last year. For WBW #44, this wine will do just fine.

Domaine des Roches Neuves is located in the appellation of Saumur Champigny and is owned by Thierry Germain. Thierry approaches Cabernet Franc like a Burgundy wine-maker instead of a typical Loire producer. This cuvée, Terres Chaudes (which literally translates to "Hot Earth"), represents the middle of the three cuvées Germain produces. The age of the vines for Terres Chaudes are between 35-45 years old and the yield does not exceed 35 hectolitres per hectare. Half of the wine is matured in stainless steel vat and the other half is matured in 1 year old barrel previously used for his top cuvée, the La Marginale. Thierry Germain converted to biodynamic farming starting from 2005. Upon release, Terres Chaudes can benefit from 6-8 years of bottle aging to gain further complexity.

Importer: VOS Selections, Price: $16, ABV: 12.5%, Closure: real cork

Tasting notes:
Color: Medium garnet, tight rims.

Nose: Strong notes of wet animal fur and light roasted meat upon opening. After an hour in the glass, wine opens up revealing lovely aromas of dark berries, lavender and a hint of tobacco.

Palate: Juicy and balanced. At age 7, the acidity is still fresh but the tannins is already quite resolved. Flavors include tart berries interlaced with layers of dust, smoke and tar. The texture is really smooth. Concentrated fruit but a (tiny) bit rustic.

Body: Medium

Finish: Medium in length. Mainly tart berries supported by dusty notes of sandalwood, herbs and a slight touch of spiciness. A bit of animal funk adds complexity to the finish.

Terres Chaudes, like all Cabernet Franc, is a versatile food wine. It is a perfect match for mild goat cheese, beef stew or even lamb.

Aside from being elegant, smooth and delicious, another great aspect of this bottle is that there is no "raw vegetable" or "steminess" that a lot of people dislike in Cabernet Franc. (Maybe this is due to sufficient bottle aging)

the 2001 Terres Chaudes is at the peak of its drinking window at the time of writing. Although I really don't see any benefit from further bottle aging, it should continue to drink well for another 2-3 years.

For a $16 wine, it really blows away a lot of competition that cost twice as much. Wish I can find more.

Note: the 2005 vintage is still quite affordable, currently selling for $20 at PJ Wine.