The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2016

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86  /  the tasting panel  /  september 2016 CAB FRANC HAS CAPTURED THE ATTENTION OF PASO ROBLES by Bob Bath, MS / photo by Jeremy Ball The Other Cabernet P aso Robles has become one of the most dynamic wine regions in California. In 1983, when Paso Robles officially became an AVA, there were fewer than 17 bonded wineries and 5,000 acres of vines. Now, there are over 200 wineries farming 41,000 acres of vines. Half of those 41,000 acres are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and other red Bordeaux varietals, and Paso Robles vintners have built a reputation for high-quality, fairly-priced Cabernet Sauvignon fueled by passion, pride and energetic efforts of the Paso Robles CAB (Cabernet and Bordeaux) Collective. "CABs of Distinction," a three-day event for sommeliers, hosted earlier this year by the Paso Robles CAB Collective at Paso's impressive Allegretto Resort, featured seminars and tastings highlighting red Bordeaux varietals, among them a tasting featuring "The Other Cabernet," Cabernet Franc. Often referred to as the "best supporting actor" in a Bordeaux-style blend, Cabernet Franc's unique personality works surprisingly well with its fellow varieties. It seems to help out everywhere in the blend, from adding exotic floral aromatics to delivering ripe, dark cherry fruit and long com- plex finishes—you just can't leave it out. On the other hand, with only 3,500 acres planted in California, Cabernet Franc is not destined to overtake Cabernet Sauvignon in popularity anytime soon. The question remains, however: Can Cabernet Franc handle the lead actor role? The six examples of Cabernet Franc in this tasting were all small-production wines, truly distinctive and well made. Very often in tastings of Cabernet Franc, a lot of attention is put on the vegetative character of this grape. Although commonplace in Cabernet Franc–based wines from cool growing regions like the Loire, in Paso Robles that vegetative component is much more in the background and allows the other exciting aspects of Cabernet Franc to shine. The first wine in this unique and impressive tasting was the

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