20 August 2014

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Wines for Autumn: Cabernet Franc


There are plenty of rewarding tastes to try as the nights draw in. Expert taster Simon Woods offers his seasonal picks

Cabernet Franc
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It’s the grape that takes up most space in the vineyards of the famed Château Cheval Blanc in St Emilion, but in most other parts of the wine world Cab Franc plays second or even third fiddle to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. A shame, as this is a grape that, at its best, combines the blackcurrant intensity of the former with the gentle juiciness of the latter, and often adds earthy/leafy tar-like notes as well. Only in the Loire Valley does it consistently play a starring role, although its charms are beginning to be appreciated by winemakers in other regions too.


Domaine de la Paleine Saumur Rouge 2007 (£8.70, Tanners) is an unusually refreshing red that manages to pack in plenty of flavours – currants, berries, tobacco plus an intriguing smoky/floral edge – yet it also retains a succulent side.

Dona Paula Cabernet Franc 2007 (£11.99, Oddbins), from the Argentine outpost of Chilean giant Santa Rita, unsurprisingly has a richer, fuller style than the Saumur. But thanks to its leafy pepper and spice characters, it’s still on the fragrant fringe of red wines. Add in flavours of blackberry, blackcurrant and a touch of mint and you have delicious proof that Mendoza is not just Malbec territory.

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