After a rather nasty winter, spring (and even a taste of summer) has come to the city. Indeed, temperate weather such as this calls for a truly special wine, and when it comes to springtime drinking, one of my favorite wines has always been Cabernet Franc.
Though less well known than its famous progeny, Cabernet Sauvignon, and today more often used as a blending grape than as a varietal, Cabernet Franc is a grape capable of producing some truly splendid wines. It tends to create medium-bodied wines with cherry and berry flavors; but what makes Cabernet Franc wines special are the green, floral, herbaceous aromas the grape tends to produce. Indeed the nose of a good Cabernet Franc can be redolent of springtime itself.
Unfortunately, until very recently kosher Cabernet Francs have been rather few and far between, with rarely more than one or two available at any time. Today however there are more kosher Cabernet Francs available in the U.S. than ever before, with more on the way.
So for this month’s “Fruit of the Vine” we tasted five kosher Cabernet Francs, all of which were very good, and any of which would make for good spring drinking.
One of the best wines in the tasting was Hagafen’s 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Franc. Made from Cabernet Franc grapes grown in the eastern part of the Napa Valley, and blended with a small amount (4 percent) of Merlot, this medium-bodied, dark-garnet-colored wine has a nose of rosemary, cassis and cherries, with whiffs of wild flowers and oak. Look for flavors of cherries, cranberries, red currents and oak, with a delightful green, herbal undertone. The wine has abundant powdery tannins, which are not yet fully integrated, and will really only start to show at its best next year.
Equally good was Recanati’s 2006 Reserve Cabernet Franc. This bright-garnet-colored, medium-to-full-bodied wine was made from Cabernet Franc grapes grown in the winery’s Kerem Ben Zimra vineyard in the northern Galilee, and was aged for 15 months in a blend of French and Hungarian oak barrels. The wine has flavors and aromas of cherries, plums, cranberries, fennel, oak and cedar, with notes of chicory root and herbs Herbes de Provence.
Cabernet Franc is a very food-friendly wine, and it goes well with roasted meats, particularly lamb, and poultry. So before the summer doldrums hit, think about enjoying springtime with a nice glass of Cabernet Franc. n
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