ON Cabernet Franc – Loire, Long Island and Canada

 I like Cabernet Franc from France but have never tasted it from Canada and have not had  many bottles  from Long Island. There are not many times that you have the chance to taste Cabernet Franc from the Loire, Long Island and Canada at the same tasting. There were 11 wines from the Loire,13 from Long Island and 7 from Canada, 3 of which were ice wines.

I am a very big fan of Chinon.They have very good fruit flavors and aromas and go very well with food. They are also a bargin. The highest priced  Chinon at the tasting was $23. They can also age very well.  When I am in France I always try to order them in restaurants and in wine stores to bring home. This past November I drank a Chinon 1978 Les Picasses-Domain Olga Raffault-Roguinet it was not showing its age and had great soft red fruit flavors and aromas.

There were three speakers at the tasting.  Frank Johnson spoke about the French wines. I know Frank for many years and respect his palate and wine knowledge. He did not believe that 2007 was a good year in Western France but felt it was a very good vintage in the Rhone. 2005 and 2006 were much better vintages. Frank is the head of his own importing company and did not buy any 2007’s. He went on to say that Chinon wines go back to the 12th -13th century.It is located in the heart of the Loire Valley near Tours between the Loire(left bank) and Vienne rivers. There are only 4,700 acres planted and the Cabernt Franc grape here ia called “Breton”. They do make a white from the Chenin blanc grape called Pineau de la Loire but this is only one percent of the total production.
The first wine of the tasting was a Langiolis Chateau Cabernet de Saumar Sec Rose 2007 $15. It was drinking like a red wine. It was one of the driest rose that I have ever tasted.There were dry fruit aroams and flavors of apricote.
Familie Grosbois Chinon Chinon Garbare 2007 ($17 ) Hints of spice and good red fruit flavors and aromar. Famille Grosbois Velle Vigne 2007 ($17 ) This was a bigger wine with more spicy aromas and red fruit flavors.

Cheateau de Vaugaudry Cuvee Prestige Chinon 2006 ($17) .Very dry, just a hint of spice and good fruit flavors and aroma. Plessis-Gerbault 2003 Chinon ($20) 2003 was very hot in France and this was a bigger wine, more depth,dry,concentrated fruit flavors.  The wine will last for a number of years.It was my favorite wine of the tasting. This was one of Frank Johnson’s wines and he said that the vines were from a special part of the vineyard. When I told hin I liked the wine he said ” wait until you taste the 2005″.  It went very well with the main course, terrine of three meats in mashed potatoes.  Having the chance to taste the wines with food can make all the difference in the world.

Frank Johnson at the Wine Media Guild tasting

Frank Johnson at the Wine Media Guild tasting

Chateau de Coulaine Chinon “Bonnaventure” 2005 ($21) Very fruit forward and seemed to be a little more modern in style.

Jean-Maurice Raffault Chinon Clos D’Isore ($21)Much more concentrated jammy flavor.
Jean-Maurice Raffault Chinon Picasses 2005 ($21) This was the most tannic of the wines but the fruit was there.

Another wine I liked was the Jean- Paul Mabileu Cuvee Gravies 2006 Saint- Nicolas de Bourguell ($20) Bourguell is a wine I have very little experience, with only 2,900 acres of vineyards. Mr Johnson said it was similar to Chinon and that they share the same terroir, history and wine making tradition. They are made in the area west of Tours and East of Saumur. They can age and are some what bigger in style that Chinon but it would be difficult to tell the difference in a blind tasting.

The next speaker was Paul Grieco a Canedian who came to the United States in 1991. He worked in a number of restaurants and now is the co-owner 0f restaurants Hearth and Insieme and Terrior a wine bar. all located in Manhattan. Paul felt that they were making some good wine in Canada but still had a ways to go. In his opinion the best place to grow wine in Canada was the Ontario’s Niagara Pininsula, Prince Edward County. The area is located between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.  Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes and therefore has the warmest temperature of any of the Great Lakes.  This creates a moderating effect and a long with sunshine, adaquate rainfall and glacial left in glacia rivers and lakes , makes it a good area to grow grapes. The wines at the tastinig ranged in price from $100 for a 1.5 liter bottle to a $15  for a 750 bottle.  I was not impressed with the wines. The best was the Stratus Cabernet Franc 2004 (Niagara) $60 They were much to international in style for me. Of the three wine ice  wines the best was the Inniskillin Ice wine from Cabernet Franc 2007(Niagara). It did have aromas of pineappe and mango and I know it is difficult to make ice wine… $95 for a half bottle.

Paul Grieco sitting with members of the Wine Media Guild

Paul Grieco sitting with members of the Wine Media Guild

The next speaker was Roman Roth from Wolffer Estate on Long Island. He spoke about Cabernet Franc in general and how the climate and soil  conditions were very good for growing this grape there. Roman went on to sat that his Cabernet Franc was more  Bordeaux in style but one had to be true to the region that they were working in. I liked three of the wines and they were very different styles. The wines ranged in price from $16 – $60. The Woffer Estates Vineyards Caya 2005  86% Cabernet Franc and 14% Merlot $40 is a big wine, with oak , vanilla, blackberry,dried prunes and a hint of spice. It is a good wine of the price.Peconic Bay Winery Cabernet Franc 2005$20 was not as big with less oak but with good fruit and spice.  My favorite was the Raphael Cabernet Franc 2007 $16 This wine did not have an oak and was made in the style of the Loire Valley.It had aromars of cherries,raspberries and floral spices.On the palate cherry and spice with a very pleasing finish and aftertaste. It is a great food wine! Roman sat next to me and during lunch and we had an interesting coversation about wine.

Roman Roth Wine Maker at Wolffer Estates

Roman Roth Wine Maker at Wolffer Estates


Filed under Cabernet Franc

2 responses to “ON Cabernet Franc – Loire, Long Island and Canada

  1. Alan

    Interesting article on my favourite grape. However, the overview of Ontario’s wine growing regions is a little mixed up. We actually have three different wine growing regions:

    1. Niagara: Bounded by the Niagara River to the east and the south shore of Lake Ontario to the north. Growers are experimenting with an incredible assortment of red grapes, including Tannat and Malbec; but in my opinion, the most successful reds are Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc, with Merlot and Gamay Noir showing promise.

    2. Lake Erie North Shore: Several hundred miles west of Niagara. This is Canada’s most southern and temperate viticulture region. Like Niagara, almost everything imaginable is grown, but my favourite reds are Cabernet Franc and Syrah. Some decent Pinot Noir, as well.

    3. Prince Edward County: Our newest wine growing region, only ten or 12 years old, about 250 miles east of Niagara, on fertile land that juts south into Lake Ontario. Very cold winters, so many growers bury their vines over the winter. The best reds I have tried are the Pinot Noirs, although a vineyard manager told me that Cabernet Franc could work as well. (But the County CFs that I have tried so far have been so-so.)

    Indeed, there is “some good wine in [Ontario] but still had a ways to go.” I find that our finest are very fine; the best Pinot Noir I have ever had was from Ontario (Malivoire 2004 Moira Vineyard Pinot Noir); ditto for the best Bordeaux blend (Reif 1995 Tesoro). There is plenty of so-so wine made in Ontario, but that is true of all wine growing regions. Overall, though, it’s exciting to witness the upswing in quality that began in the late 1990s. Many formerly so-so wines have become quite good over the years, perfect as everyday wines rather than special occasion wines. But for special occasions, it’s great to reach into my cellar and find fabulous wines from my own “backyard.”

    • charlesscicolone

      Thank you Alan. I do not have that much experience of wiines from this area and read what you wrote with great interest

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