Raats celebrates a decade of Cabernet Franc
22 May 2012 by Raats
Cabernet Franc specialist Bruwer Raats recently hosted a tasting at Wine Cellar to celebrate his tenth vintage of Raats Cabernet Franc. Guests were able to taste the flight from his maiden vintage in 2001 to his soon-to-be released 2010.
According to Raats, it was a unique and emotional event as he has never tasted all ten vintages on one occasion. “This is a daunting, yet very exciting experience for me. To successfully establish a wine brand, the secret lies in consistency. If you can manage to deliver ten consecutive vintages properly, you can carry on for the next ten. My aim was to make a Cabernet Franc that carries a thread over the ten years, but still allow each vintage to show its own characteristics,” explained Raats.
Raats has always maintained that Cabernet Franc prefers specific soils – similar to those found in the Loire valley rather than that of Bordeaux. “Cabernet Franc does not like too fertile soils and therefore our departure point was to find vineyards planted in decomposed dolomite granite - as that is the most similar soil type available locally. These soils allow the character of the vintage to show, while Mother Nature provides the consistent threads of elegance, complexity, freshness and acidity found in all my wines,” said Raats.
Wine critics and enthusiasts battled it out to decide on a favourite amongst the flight presented in two sessions, but were unanimous about the consistency of the wines. Weather conditions during each harvest played an interesting role in the final character of the wines with similar harvests producing similar taste profiles.
Roland Peens of Wine Cellar and Christian Eedes of whatidranklastnight concurred that the 2009 was their favourite vintage. Peens described it as “a stand-out Cabernet Franc with amazing purity and brightness” while Raats agreed that this was definitely a stand-alone vintage. “This was what I wanted a South African Cabernet Franc to be!” Well-known German sommelier Jorg Pfutzner mentioned that the 2006 vintage has consistently been his favourite thanks to the incredible length the wine shows.
The elegance of Raats’ Cabernet Francs was indeed reflected in the comments from the guests, who could have been describing a beautiful woman. “Plush, seductive, open and soft, a little bit awkward, firm and plump” were only a couple of the observations as the tasters moved along the vintages.
One of the latest Cape Wine Masters Lizette Tolken has become one of the leading authorities on Cabernet Franc as she did her thesis on the varietal. “There are currently 43 single varietal Cabernet Franc producers in the country and I just love the style of Bruwer’s wines. Although all the wines are different, this tasting has shown that Cabernet Franc can mature and I find the 2003 intriguing with its savoury complexity. This varietal is definitely a food wine.”
In conclusion, Eedes stated: “I know who I’d stick to when drinking Cabernet Franc. Bruwer, you’re way ahead of the game.”
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