The change is slowly happening out there. Little by little, one meal and one glass at a time. Worldwide wine taste buds are on the move. After three decades of learning and appreciating the fuller, sweeter higher alcohol tastes of new world wines, food is leading the slow counter revolution. The pendulum is swinging back. Enter stage right: Cabernet Franc.
The availability of different wines and styles has changed has changed dramatically. There is now a wine for every occasion! Similarly there is a wine for every food. And rather than drinking a wine that dominates the food, the change is underway to find wines that really partner and compliment the food. The perfect opportunity for a wine that is fruit forward, a touch higher in acidity and lighter in alcohol.
Witness the rise and rise of Pinot Noir! From French Burgundy speciality variety to new global wine star – a whole revolution is now under way. And all based around its finesse, delicate perfumed aromas and stunning subtle soft fruity tastes, which compliment many foods so perfectly.
The same is happening with Cabernet Franc. Often regarded as the perfect princess of red wines, the beautiful bridesmaid that adds a gorgeous nose and length to Bordeaux Merlot / Cabernet Sauvignon blends, CabFranc is now starting to come out all on its own. And how worthy is this traditional princess of its own spotlight and special place. Time to recognise that here is a wonderful available varietal wine that delivers so much taste. Full varietal Cabernet Franc is simply a gorgeous and brilliant food wine.
And this is why Cabernet Franc wins on many fronts – the perfect wine for this new food-driven era. It begins up front by the subtle flavours of its bouquet – a heady perfume of raspberries, blackcurrants or maybe violets which marry well with its bright clear maroon colour. The taste is often cassis when young, maturing somewhat to black cherry with age producing a smooth rich feeling in the mouth. When the wine is produced in a cooler climate, it can often have a ‘green’ or bell pepper taste; this is a distinctive CabFranc feature.
CabFranc also has a little bit more acidity than most red wines which is what gives it the perfect edge as a food pairing wine. And then finally there is length – the Cabernet Franc hallmark trait! Or put a different way, it is how long the taste and flavour of the wine lingers behind in the drinker’s mouth. Warmer climate CabFranc will also have a characteristic zing or slight spiciness which works well when pairing with mildly hot or chili containing dishes.
I remember clearly, from a few years back at the early stages of launching our organically produced Bordeaux varietal Cabernet Franc, being invited to dinner by the owner of a ‘big Bordeaux château’ to the north west of St. Emilion and being asked to bring a bottle of our wine. Grilled beef tenderloin was the main course for which he had reserved his full tasting matured strong Merlot bottle as the partner. The entrée dish was a French version of Chilli prawns and our Cloud9 / B1ockOne would be the pairing wine. I was apprehensive to say the least, fearing that the strength of the food would completely obliterate the young wine. It was a moment of great learning. The wine was a perfect pairing and attracted immense respect from all the guests in respect to how well it handled the the mild chill taste and complemented the food.
Cabernet Franc is a very versatile wine for food pairing. CabFranc is a perfect companion with roast meats – just remember not to overdo the flavours or make the sauces too rich! It also goes extremely well with Goats cheese and harder cheeses. Try it also with richer fish dishes such as grilled / baked Salmon or Tuna.
A slow revolution is under way. Time to serve more Cabernet Franc. Make it much more than a meal.
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