Sunday, October 4, 2009

The greatest Cab Franc? I sure hope so . . . .

The 2005 vintage of Clos Rougeard has just landed in the US. None other than the superlative Charles Joguet is quoted, "there are two suns. One shines outside for everybody. The second shines in the Foucaults’ cellar." The Foucalt brothers are the proprietors of Clos Rougeard.

I have never tasted a Clos Rougeard. In fact, the $40 to $100 price tag, depending on the cuvée, is a rather massive impediment (assuming you can find any in the first place). But virtually everything I have read suggests the wines of Clos Rougeard are one of the greatest expressions of Cabernet Franc in the world. Given that 2005 was an especially great year in the Loire, if you can find it, it might be worth the splurge.

It's instructive to compare what one can buy from different regions at similar price or prestige levels. Sea Smoke, the local cult Pinot Noir producer, has three cuvées with varying levels of new oak priced from about $40 to $100. Interestingly, the breakdown of oak regimes and pricing is nearly identical to that of Clos Rougeard. But in one case, we're talking about young vine cuvées from a new winery that's been in business for less than a decade. Their original winemaker has moved on, though they're probably still one of the better producers in the appellation. In the other, we're talking about old vine cuvées from a producer whose history spans generations. It's a family-run winery and hell would likely freeze over before a Foucault quit to work for a less-reknown competitor.

It's also fun to imagine what $50 gets you from, say, Napa, Bordeaux or Burgundy. Something good, one would hope, but nothing that would be held up as an exemplar of its region or varietal. The "best" Cabernet Sauvignon (Latour?), Merlot (Petrus?) or Pinot Noir (DRC?) is likely to cost several thousand dollars, especially if it is a 2005 from France you are discussing.

OK, as you might have guessed, I broke down and bought as little as I could. I'll let you know how this turns out in a decade. Maybe if Sea Smoke lowers its prices to acceptable levels (and stops with the mailing list/manufactured demand scheme), I can quaff some of those while I wait for the Clos Rougeard to come around. Ha! Just kidding, there are plenty of Chinons and Bourgueils I have earmarked for short to intermediate aging that don't cost an arm and a leg.

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