Washington vs. The World: Cabernet Franc
February 7, 2009 by Wino
This month, we turn to Cabernet Franc as we compare wines from Washington with those from around the globe. A parent of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc is mostly grown in Bordeaux for blending, but also stands alone as a single varietal in the Loire, where it is known as Breton. In the United States, it is still primarily grown for use in Meritage (Bordeaux-style blend). Here in Washington, Cab Franc offers further proof that we can grow just about anything. How does Washington’s Cab Franc compare to one from France?
We start with the Chinook 2006 Cabernet Franc from the Yakima Valley. Rusty, brick red in color, it has spice, cedar box, dusty broom, reduced strawberry, a little dirty leather and menthol on the nose. Basically, everything but the fruit. Drinking the wine, you get a bold, structured attack that gives way to a more subtle mid-palate and a balanced finish. The oak is judicious. Cab Franc is believed to prefer a cool climate, but growing it in the Yakima Valley gives it the big fruit you’ve come to expect from Washington wines. And this one goes down easy.
Next, we visit the 2007 Jour de Soif (“Day of Thirst”), a Cab Franc from the Bourgueil AOC in the Loire region. Almost identical in color to the Chinook, it also has a cloudy appearance, perhaps unfiltered. On the nose, it’s very similar to the Chinook, but the strawberry notes are more candy-like. It’s also a little tighter and more herbaceous. Drinking the Day of Thirst reveals a very lively acidity. True to the nose, it’s more herbaceous, less fruity and lighter bodied than the Chinook. It’s very characteristic of the 2007 Loire Valley wines.
Both the Chinook and Jour de Soif wines were very characteristic of Cabernet Franc. It’s not surprising, however, that the wine from Yakima Valley was simply bigger, more amplified in each respect.
So, who is the winner of this month’s Washington vs. The World? Leave your comments, and tell us what you think.