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  • Cathy Henderson

The real king of Cab

Updated: Jul 15, 2019

Once viewed as something of a dark horse, Cab Franc does have a rather intriguing provenance. Often dubbed a ‘king’ of red wine, Cabernet Sauvignon is, in fact, rather a prince – the hybrid result of parents Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc…

Cab Franc is gathering much-deserved interest as it grows in quality and spirit: at the second South African #CabFrancChallenge @AvontuurEstate in Stellenbosch, where the number of entries increased from 32 in 2016 to 50 in 2017, including 11 wines entered for the 'vintage' class – wineries were interested to see how this varietal aged over time. Cape Wine Master and head of the tasting panel Christine Rudman was impressed with the increase in entries, a telling sign that winemakers are keen to grow the category. She noted that just about every producer of Cabernet Franc in South Africa is now represented, which is excellent news.

A challenge indeed, as the panel had a tough time selecting the Top 6, with the diverse styles presented and, once again, outstanding quality. Rudman also commented that an interesting change from the inaugural Challenge in 2016 was the different styles that came to the fore.

"Although the panel loved the wines featuring minerality and 'dusty road' characteristics, we also tasted a few upfront and funky examples with loads of red fruit, as well as the more varietal-typical wines with classic perfume notes of violets, scrub and red berries.”

One of the most alluring aspects of Cab Franc is often to do with its fragrance – likely to transport you to somewhere in the Mediterranean where the savoury notes of sun-baked earth meet ripened fruit aromas carried on a faintly salty breeze...

One vintage winner only was selected as the wine was the clear winner for 2017…

@HoldenManzWineEstate Cabernet Franc Reserve 2012, also part of last year’s Top 6 and, in fact, their maiden vintage of the Cab Franc, as well as a Top 3 winner at last year’s #OldMutualTrophyWineShow. So how do Holden Manz – a hidden gem in Franschhoek – describe their ‘game-changing’ Cab Franc? Behind the wine, winemaker Thierry Haberer shares the following insights:

“I am very respectful of the grapes, I love walking the vineyard and trying to understand how a block works. Everyone is of the belief that the vineyard is where everything begins, and it is true, to me the essence is in selecting and marking the difference in the vineyard!”

The wine notes detail subtle aromatics of spice and pepper notes, with enchanting black fruit on the nose, this dark, ruby red wine is well balanced with great volume. Rich and elegant red fruit with dark berry nuances dance on the palate, while a long finish hints of mocha and further spice. Wood is well integrated, resulting in pleasantly subtle tannins.


[Source: media information and bottle image from CVO Marketing, 083-556-3740]

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