Variety: Cabernet Franc
Designation: La Baronnie Madeleine
Region: Loire Valley
$13.99 at Costco, in Indianapolis, Indiana
The Big Wooden Guy isn't sure if he should drink it or smoke it.
The classic identifying odor of Cabernet Franc is tobacco leaf. If you can't place that in your library of odor memories, find the nearest Costco and buy a bottle of this wine. The fruit is either non-existent or merely shut down. What you get is wave after wave of tobacco leaf. Smelling this wine is like walking through the back room of a cigar shop on Calle Ocho in Miami or Ybor City near Tampa (and perhaps, when we finally get done with our useless and counter-productive decades-long idiocy with Cuba, Havana).
Tobacco dominates the palate as well as the nose. If you sip some in, breathe in some air, swirl it around and really try, you can find some red fruit, cranberries and red currants. There is even dark chocolate on the mid-palate. However, tobacco is the dominating feature. The finish is medium length, as is the mouth feel. Acids are bright. Tannins make a light backbone, not overpowering but clearly there and wanting more time to integrate.
A night made some difference, but I fear not enough. Tobacco still leads the nose. It has added some eucalyptus and menthol, plus a hint of fennel. On the palate, too, tobacco keeps the lead,with the addition of black olives. Now though, the eucalyptus shows up on the mid-palate.
Acidity remains very bright, along with light tannins, offering a good backbone for additional maturity. Will fruit appear later? Perhaps. It is hard to tell if it is merely shut down or non-existent. This wine, though, provides a classroom demonstration of what "tobacco" means in Cab Franc, and for a mere $13 is worth buying two bottles- one for the lesson, and another to see what happens in 2012.