The first event for Cabernet Franc Day, Paso Robles was a seminar and tasting of International Cabernet Franc wines. The seminar was led by Wes Hagen, who’s credentials would fill a couple of pages, suffice it say he is a WSET 2 & 3, Estate Host for LXV Wines & Native9 Wines, researched and wrote the thesis/proposals for Ballard Canyon AVA, Happy Canyon AVA and Santa Rita Hills AVA, is LXV’s wine educator and was high school and college instructor. Additionally, he is an engaging speaker with delight metaphors and some outright hysterical quips on wine and the wine industry.
The first part of the session was about 45 minutes starting out with the history of International Cabernet Franc Day starting with Cardinal Richelieu, who brought cutting of Cabernet Franc to Loire Valley. Cardinal Richelieu also invented the table knife! December 4th is the anniversary of Cardinal Richelieu’s death to honor his legacy. Other interesting factoids of the sessions included:
- Jean-Louis Vignes imported vines from France for the Mediterranean climate to Los Angeles. But in the 1800’s when Anaheim (Pierce’s) Disease impacted the region, the vines and viticulture headed to northern California to follow the Gold Rush.
- Cabernet Fran ripens about one to two weeks prior to Cabernet Sauvignon
- Cabernet Franc is a parent grape of Merlot, Carménère and Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Jancis Robinson calls Cabernet Franc the “feminine side of Cabernet Sauvignon. It is subtly fragrant and gently flirtatious”.
- A couple of Wes’s comments were “to be a good wine experience, you need wine, food and love. Should any one of these items be missing, you are simply drinking beer”. People often talk about “over oaking a wine, but Wes stated, if you are tasting too much oak, it is “under wined as you cannot over oak a good wine”. Wine is “a time machine as it is the only drink which can delineate both time and place”.
Then the tasting of Cabernet Francs from around the world took place with detailed explanations on each area, characteristics of the varietal, food pairings, soil conditions, and more. Here is where Wes provided some great insight with each of the six regions tasting. The overall perspective is that New World Style being bold, fruit forward and Old World Style being lean, lighter and herb driven.
2018 Vignerons de Saumur Roughe “ Les Epinats” Samaur, Loire being 100% Cabernet Franc
2018 Chateau Bel Air St Emilion, 50% Cabernet Franc, 50% Merlot
2017 Havas & Timar, Franom Eger Region, Hungary, 100% Cabernet Franc
2017 Pirque Vineyard, Maipo Chile, 100% Cabernet Franc
2020 Stinso Family from Crozet, VA, 100% Cabernet Franc
2019 Crocker & Starr, a Cabernet Franc blend.
The next portion of the meeting was a panel discussion featuring Steve Peck, VP of Winemaking at J Lohr, Michael Mooney, President/Winemaker for Chateau Margene and Stasi Seay, Director of Vineyards for Hope Family Wines answered questions posed by Wes. Pictures are of Steve and Stasi, but Michael Mooney is from a Facebook picture.
A good size crowd attended both the educational and panel discussion sessions.
At the conclusion of the panel discussion attendees were then dismissed to taste and meet sixteen wineries pouring their wines on the patio. Another story on that event to shortly follow.
In conclusion, Neeta Mittal of LXV Wines coordinated and did a masterful job as Master of Ceremonies for these two events. Also, should you get a chance to listen or hear Wes Hagen speak, do not pass up a wonderful opportunity to learn and expand your knowledge.