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Hagafen Cabernet Franc, Napa, 2007

August 18, 2011 Leave a comment

And now we turn our attention this week back to California, after making an extended stay in other parts of the world. We are looking today at the Hagafen Cabernet Franc, from their vineyards in Napa, California.

What is Cab Franc, you ask? It is one of the more underrated grapes out there (and one of my favorites). Franc’s claim to fame is that it is one of the two parent grapes of Cabernet Sauvignon (whose other parent is Sauvignon Blanc. Get it? Cabernet Sauvignon).

In terms of its general characteristics, Cabernet Franc is not as full-bodied as its Sauvignon offspring. While there is fruitiness to its wines, Cabernet Francs tend to have more cassis and blueberry qualities to it, as opposed to the cherry and strawberry notes that Cabernet Sauvignon exhibits. Also Cabernet Franc has strong herbaceous qualities, and frequently shows aromas of rosemary and even cigar ash (believe it or not, this is a very pleasant quality, and I’m not a particularly big fan of cigars in general, but that’s another story).

2007 was a landmark year in Napa, and many wineries were able to put out excellent-quality wines at each price point, and several wines had age-worthy qualities about them: lots of tannin and acidic structure. The Hagafen Cabernet Franc was no exception.

The tannins were up-front and unabashedly present. While this made for a great pairing with meat (I tried it with my Shabbos chulent this week), I wonder how this would fare in a couple more years (again, this wine probably has some short-term aging potential!). The fruits were richer and more dominant that I tend to like in a Cabernet Franc: the blueberries were bursting with juiciness and a little overly ripe, and yet there was still a nice acidity in the background. The herbal and cigar notes were muted.

All of this leads me to think that this wine was not yet ready for general consumption, and required more age. With age the wine would lose some of its fresh and juicy fruitiness, giving way to more dried fruit qualities and letting the earthier and herbal notes come to the forefront.

While I lack the abilities to age a wine properly (no functioning cellar. Boo, hiss), I am going to keep this on my radar and hopefully be able to nab myself another bottle in six months or so and see how this wine has progressed. Hagafen Cellars is known for its quality California wines, and this is no exception to the rule. At its $45 price tag, it’s not for the faint of heart, budget-wise, but is very much worth the investment for those who can.

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