As Morrissey once sang, but not à propos…
What makes Cheval Blanc so particular? It’s not that beautiful old cedar dans le parc, it’s not Pierre Lurtons’s ubiquitous buff waistcoats. It’s the Cabernet Franc.
Cabernet Franc, a Bordelais odd ball, of sorts, playing third violin to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and even Petit Verdot. But in the Loire it is king.
And tonight I opened a bottle of Romain Guiberteau’s 2013 Les Motelles. Now I love Cabernet Franc,with that delicious green twang that I have written about so often. That herbaceous zip that pulls you out of a red fruit stupour, or worse, a soup.
It always gives drive, more nervosité to a Bordelais classic. Even in Tuscany, cushioned by Transalpine heat and a coastal breeze, Le Macchiole’s Paleo Rosso is one of my standout Tuscan reds. I, and I speak only for myself, rate it much higher than their oft 100-pointed Macchiole or Scrio. Paleo Rosso is 100% Cabernet Franc.
But Romain Guiberteau’s 2013 les Motelles is not your usual Loire Cabernet Franc. Generally Loire Cabernet Franc’s have weight; they have mass. A weight and mass driven off with that zip of green. But they can be just a bit rustic and often a little bruising.
This runs the whole gamut over twenty four hours, from an almost pinot-like, skeletal and filigreed elegance on opening, with some firm, even caustic tannins, to a rapidly expanded girth after an hour and onto a firm, cylindrical elegance a day later. Cool, it offers purity and freshness, and rustic it certainly isn’t. Supple but structured, it is a lesson in balance.
Well worth searching out.