2018 Franc Black McLaren Vale Cabernet franc
Cabernet franc with 10% Nero d'Avola. 100% McLaren Vale. Bottled unfiltered and unfined.
Gary Walsh - The WineFront
Raspberry, mint, grass and dried herb, carob and nuts, proper Turkish Delight fragrance. It’s medium bodied, juicy red fruits with appropriate Franc wheat grass character, soft but gently grippy tannin, crisp feel, redcurrant jelly and rose essence trailing on a bright finish. Great drinking. This monkey hasn’t quite gone to heaven, but still la la love you. Frisky.
Rated : 91 Points
Tasted : Jul19
Alcohol : 13.6%
Price : $28
Closure : Screwcap
Drink : 2019 - 2022+
Through a winemaking friend, I found an amazing Cabernet franc site overlooking Sellicks Beach, a good stone’s throw from the Victory Hotel. The vines are planted in an east/west orientation and the slope of the land is northerly facing. In viticultural translation, it’s a royal flush. The site is one of the highest in McLaren Vale, so the weather remains fresh with cooling sea breezes in the afternoon. The soil is an Urrbrae loam which is a red sandy loam with small limestone inclusions which help water drainage and aeration.
I spent the weeks leading up to harvest after work and on weekends, tasting and testing the fruit for sugar and acid balance. On the 13th February, I hand-picked half a tonne of fruit, destemmed it, and hand plunged it twice a day. The wine underwent a natural, wild ferment before being pressed off skins and sent to an older French oak barrique for 12 months. The Nero was sourced from winemaker Sam Scott who specialises in Italian varieties at La Prova Wines. This parcel came from a lower yielding site in the Willunga Hills.
The wine is medium bodied with notes of fresh, ripe strawberries, blueberries and raspberries with aromatics reminiscent of a herb garden. There are gentle tannins rounding it off with subtle elements of black cherries and olive. It is a lighter version of Cabernet that captures the vitality of the Franc but with some depth and structure to feel solid and provide good ageing potential.
Some background on the varieties and the wine style
Cabernet franc is the father of Cabernet sauvignon. In fact, Cabernet sauvignon is a hybrid between its parents, Cabernet franc and Sauvignon blanc, thus where ‘Cab sauv’ gets its blended name. Cabernet franc has all the great characters that are loved from the Cabernet family of dark blue and red fruits but is a more fragrant and aromatic variety that lends itself to a fresher style of red. It is planted in Bordeaux where it is blended with Cabernet sauvignon to give freshness to their full-bodied wines. In the Loire Valley, it is bottled by itself in a lighter early drinking style that has been popular in trendy Parisian bistros for centuries.
Nero d’Avola is a relatively new addition to the Australian wine scene. Commonly referred to simply as Nero, meaning black, it is a variety native to Sicily where it produces robust wines with good tannin structure and black cherry notes. Modern winemakers and viticulturists regard it highly for its adaptation to our warmer climates and excellent drought resistance. I therefore think my Franc Black blends the best of traditional winemaking with the varieties and styles of the future.