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Cabernet Franc is not a widely planted variety in South Africa. It comprises some 965.31 hectares of the 98 597 total hectares planted in South Africa [SAWIS stats end of 2015]

This is not a variety that I have a great deal of experience with, be it tasting or growing it. I’ve worked with about 3 blocks in my 9 years of being a viticulturist. Things that I have learned though is that Cab Franc can be a nightmare to produce in cold regions, due the the high pyrazine levels (guilty for the “green” flavours in wines) usually present in this variety accompanied by bone dry tannins.

Traditionally a blending component in a Bordeaux blend, Cabernet Franc in South Africa is rarely thought of as a single varietal wine. The Cabernet Franc Carnival is there to challenge and change this perception.

We tasted 11 wines, some that had done very well in the second Cabernet Franc Carnival, hosted by and at Avontuur Estate in Stellenbosch on the 21st of May. Of the 11 wines, only 2 had distinct “green” flavours that put most of the winemakers  a bit off, but overall the wines showed smooth and soft tannins, great fruit profiles, good length and aging potential of between 5 – 12 years – an excellent review for the winemakers involved.

The styles were quite different in most of these wines, showing that Cabernet Franc in South Africa has the potential to please different palates. The wines ranged from heavy, dark fruit and bold tannins – candidates for further aging, to smooth and elegant – ready to drink now.

The wines we tasted, in no particular order:

1. Whalehaven Cabernet Franc 2010

2. Avontuur Cabernet Franc 2011

3. Hermanuspietersfontein Swartskaap 2011

4. Jakobs Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2012

5. Warwick Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2012

6. De Trafford Cabernet Franc 2012

7. Raka Cabernet Franc 2013

8. Oldenburg Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2013

9. KWV The Mentors Cabernet Franc 2013

10. Raats Dolomite Cabernet Franc 2013

11. Zorgvliet Cabernet Franc 2014

Thanks to Abe Beukes for the invite to their group tasting and special thanks to Bernard of Zorgvliet for letting us taste the Zorgvliet Silver Myn Cabernet Franc 2003, 2006 and 2009 and for hosting at this stunning Estate.

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