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April 3, 2008

Is it a Cabernet Franc ... or Chinon ... or both?

Hmmm . . . I am famished and I'm feeling a little bit naughty tonight. I'm tired of salads and seafood and cooking things that look pretty and are fairly nutritious. Tonight I want a cheesesteak. Soft, fresh bun with tender, paper-thin sliced sirloin, gooey cheese and the sweet and savory kick of sauteed peppers and onions. So here, my friends is my dilemma . . . am I in the mood for an herbaceous yet fruity Cabernet Franc from sunny California or an earthy and spicy Chinon (aka Cabernet Franc) from the Loire Valley? I just might have to taste a little of both in order to decide.ironstonecabfranc.jpg

Ironstone Cabernet Franc 2004 $11
I can't say that I'm a huge fan of Ironstone wines in general, but I can tell you that this wine consistently knocks my socks off for the money. While Cabernet Franc is a little off-putting to some, I think most people who try the new world incarnations are expecting something quite like a Cabernet Sauvignon. However, I love that you get a mouthful of ripe, juicy dark cherry fruit contrasting with layers of fresh cut dill and peppers and laced together with a current of creamy vanilla and toasty oak. Sounds a little weird, I know, but somehow it really works because it isn't too fruity, or too vegetal or too creamy.

bredifchinonlabel.jpgMarc Bredif Chinon 2005 $16
One the other hand, the Marc Bredif Chinon (which is 100% Cabernet Franc), is much more restrained, or shall I say less overt, but no less interesting. The fruit flavors are intense, but they are distinctly dried--blueberries, strawberries and cherries--rather than fresh notes of those fruits. And you definitely get a lighter, tighter and spicier feel on the palate.

It is a tough call, but I think I'm leaning toward the Ironstone tonight. That vegetal kick will really work well with the peppers and onions. Then again, I do love Chinon. Perhaps I'll have just a little more of each before I decide . . .

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Posted by Noël Wallace at April 3, 2008 10:51 PM
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