Thursday, June 28, 2007
A little respite (accent on the second syllable, please) from scent ... How hard that is for me... But that said, here we go: Cabernet Franc is a varietal that shows off its mineral-laden terroir to full effect and that won't break your wallet. While the same can be said for Mosel Rieslings, I find my tastes these hot summer days inclining toward drier, more lithe wines from the Loire. I'd always known that Cabernet Franc was a component in some of the more opulent (read: interesting) wines of the Bordeaux, where the grape ripens with greater ease, but its greener, more vegetal, stonier northward brother was a bit standoffish at first. In 2004, I seem to remember pouring down the kitchen drain a bottle I'd procured at Union Square Wines. It was to my taste simply unyielding. I thought, something for the real connoisseurs. Mea culpa. Over the last year, however, I have tasted a variety of single-vineyard cuvees from Catherine and Pierre Breton that lead me to adopt a different stance. Unlike many Bordeaux wines at a similar price, wines such as Chinon and Bourgeuil metamorphose in bottle from tenacious little monsters (long on acid, bell pepper and something that one eminent wine critic once described as "cat poop" notes) into delicate, tobacco-leaf-laden, if slightly backward, beauties. And what's more, organic viticulture and minimal "winemaking" (read: tampering) allow the spirit of the place to shine through: stony, gravelly, alluvial soil that changes from this hundred meters to the next to create intensely singular wines. Their character can range from perfumed and recherché to downright dirty, like an unwashed schoolgirl. As with certain Sauvignon-Blanc-based wines, such as Pouilly-Fumé and Saint-Bris, I have to hold back from opting for a splash or two on the wrists (instead of Creed's Citrus Bigarrade (1901), my summertime fragrance fave).