Cabernet Franc is not a style that we often see vinified as a single varietal, but when it’s done well, it can be at least the equal of its better known cousin, Cabernet Sauvignon. Most frequently, Cabernet Franc is used in the classic Bordeaux blends to provide charm, aromatics and fragrance to what is my all-time favourite red blend.
In Victoria’s Yarra Valley there aren’t a lot of winemakers braving a single varietal of the style, but on a recent field trip we happened upon the Steels Creek Estate 2013 Cabernet Franc.
It’s a remarkably vivacious style in its youth and shows a lively deep cherry colour in the glass with a lighter rufescent edge on the rim. Whilst it’s only medium in body, there is a vibrance to the blackcurrant and cranberry fruits that emerge from the savoury shadows of your first whiff in the glass. The luscious red fruits evolve and embrace the palate in a generous bear hug before tobacco and cassis undercurrents appear at the back end. The balance is terrific as oak characters embolden on the finish and allow the seductive Cabernet Franc to fragrantly weave its intoxicating aura, leaving your taste buds yearning for that next sip.
It’s a wine made only in small quantities (one barrique) so economies of scale aren’t able to constrain the cost, but even at $40 a bottle, I reckon it’s a “must” for the discerning cellar.
Our wine reviewer, Travis Schultz, is a practice group leader of Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers, part of the Slater and Gordon group, and lover of fine food and wine