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Featured Wine of the Week – An Unusual Cabernet Franc

2014 Supercluster |100% Cabernet Franc |13.2% Alcohol | Santa Barbara County

It’s been rainy and cold in Los Angeles.  Maybe it’s not as cold as other regions of the country suffering from the “Polar Vortex,” but it’s cold for us.  It’s inspired me to dig into some old comfort food recipes, including a particularly delicious beef stew I haven’t made in years.  It was my mom’s recipe, and every bite reminds me of her.

I needed some wine for the stew, so I turned to my collection and selected a bottle of Cabernet Franc.  This bottle was part of a Wine Club package from an online club I joined a few years ago.  The labels on the wines were fun and adorable.  The bottles were inexpensive.  However, the wines I tried didn’t have much depth.  For this reason, the bottles I ordered from the club became my “go to” for when I wanted to cook with wine.

This bottle of Cabernet Franc, called Supercluster, was one of the last bottles from that time.  Since it was going into a heady tomato sauce, I figured it would be perfect.  Cabernet Franc should be a bold, rich wine, typical for a wine with a high tannic structure, that goes nicely with tomato.

I uncorked the bottle and poured a glass of wine, fully expecting it to be bad.  Never mind that it probably wasn’t a very good bottle when at its peak, but it also had gone through a cross-country move in less than stellar conditions.  To my surprise, it was delicious!  Not only did it have a gorgeous smell, it was quite tasty too!

This particular Cabernet Franc wasn’t very heavy.  It was soft and light, and drank more like a pinot noir.  It was fruity, with hints of green bell pepper.  The tannins were surprisingly light.  This isn’t typical for a Cabernet Franc – after all, it is the father of Cabernet Sauvignon, the King of rich wine.

Perhaps the lightness of the wine comes from the way it was produced, using carbonic maceration.  This technique involves fermenting the juice while the grape is still intact.  Most winemakers ferment the grape after crushing.  When the grapes are crushed, the juice is in contact with the skins, which is responsible for most of the tannins in red wine. The varietal most commonly used in carbonic maceration is Gamay, which is used to produce Beaujolais Nouveau, a lighter, less tannic, effervescent red wine.

Regardless of the tannic structure of this wine, it was delicious in and with the stew.  It gave it just the right amount of acid and depth.



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