A good few decades ago on a (presumably) warm barmy Bordeaux summer’s evening, Cabernet Franc got cosy and naughty with Sauvignon Blanc. One thing led to another and they crossed genes! The result of their passion was on of the world’s great red wine grape varietals and in order to ensure that the new vine’s ancestry was appropriately reflected, its new name borrowed half of each of his parents’ titles.
The new vine was called Cabernet Sauvignon.
Whilst the naming process seems today to look fair, reasonable, egalitarian and non-sexist I put forward the view that it has caused a huge wine world injustice.
I can’t recall the number of people who, when I talk about Paradise Rescued and our almost unique position in Bordeaux as a producer of 100% Cabernet Franc wine, look at me all strange! “Cabernet Franc? Is that different from Cabernet Sauvignon?”
“Oh yes” I usually reply, “It’s different alright!”
Master of Wine and wine writing legend Jancis Robinson describes Cabernet Franc as the feminine side of CabSav. I would go one step further and say that Cabernet Franc is everything that Cabernet Sauvignon isn’t or lacks! Cab Sav is full-on, powerful, tough, tannic and almost always well loaded with ripe blackcurrant. CabFranc is subtle, seductive, soft and smooth. It’s not a ‘big’ wine. It has a beautiful gentle fruit cassis / cherry nose and its often-spicy taste lingers well after you have drunk the wine.
In Bordeaux blends, it is often the secret that makes the perfect assemblage. It fills the gaps that neither Cabernet Sauvignon nor Merlot can. But because of its charm and subtlety, it frequently goes unnoticed and forgotten by its producer.
Because of our Mission to protect the heritage of our village – effectively guarding the land around us – The Paradise Rescued project started back to front. We bought the land and then found out, to our surprise, that we had acquired some Cabernet Franc. Initial disappointment has been turned to excitement as we discovered the jewel and uniqueness that is Bordeaux Cabernet Franc.
The injustice and lack of Cabernet Franc recognition is on the cusp of reversing. One day many more producers will wish they had had our early ‘misfortune’! CabFranc is on the way up.
So yes, history has given us two Cabernets. They are related; they work very well together and compliment each other. But they are very different. Cabernet Franc is a beautiful brilliant soft aromatic wine in its own right. It will never be Cabernet Sauvignon. But next time you have a “Cab”, remember to check which one. And if you haven’t had a Cabernet Franc lately, go find one. You will adore the difference.
Naturally, we recommend a taste of our Paradise Rescued B1ockOne * 100% varietal Bordeaux Cabernet Franc for a great appreciation of the best that the soft feminine Cabernet has to offer!
* In Australia, the Paradise Rescued 2010 vintage Cabernet Franc is still sold under the name of Cloud9.