Raats Cabernet Franc 2009

April 25, 2012
by Christian
in What I Drank Last Night
with 4 Comments

Good job – a decade of Cab Franc.

Last night a vertical of Raats Family Wines Cabernet Franc from the maiden 2001 through to the not yet released 2010. “You need 10 vintages of more or less consistent quality before you can say you’ve established a brand,” reckons owner and cellarmaster Bruwer Raats. “This tasting is in a way daunting and in another way exciting”.

Raats is convinced that Cabernet Franc’s true home is the Loire rather than Bordeaux and favours the elegance of the former region’s wines over the relative power of the latter. His vineyards are planted on decomposed dolomite granite, which are low in potential and well drained facilitating optimal ripeness and freshness. “Very often in South Africa Cabernet Franc is planted on sandstone soils which are too fertile – you get excessive vegetative growth and the end-wines end up high in alcohol yet still green.”

For all Raat’s preoccupation with elegance, I preferred the slightly warmer vintages – 2003 and 2005 – as these wines seemed to have more heft without forsaking finesse. That said, 2009 which is being billed as one of the Cape’s greatest vintages ever, is truly something special (still available at R319 a bottle).

Scores and brief tasting notes as follows:
2010: 17/20
Subtle oak and pleasant herbaceous notes on the nose. An elegant wine with red and black fruit, fresh acidity and fine tannins. Clean and pure, relatively austere. Long, dry finish.

2009: 17.5/20
Dark fruit and pencil shavings on the nose. Rich and intense but balanced. Extremely primary with fresh acidity and firm but fine tannins. Serious and demanding.

2008: 16.5/20
Red fruit on the nose and palate. More medium bodied with good freshness and fine tannins.

2007: 16/20
Herbal notes and dusty oak on the nose. The palate shows red fruit, slight green quality, tart acidity.  Relatively lean.

2006: 15.5/20
Wild, rather savoury notes on the nose and palate. Lacks precision of later vintages.

2005: 17/20
Red and black fruit, pencil shavings, spice and fynbos on the nose and palate. Good concentration, fresh acidity, fine tannins. Sweet-fruited and relatively plush. Shows pleasing development. Drink well now.

2004: 16/20
Fynbos and pencil shavings on the nose. Relatively slight on the palate with red fruit flavours and bright acidity.

2003: 17.5/20
Shy nose. Medium- to full-bodied with red and black fruit as well as some pleasant age-derived savoury character. Fresh acidity and fine tannins. Long, dry finish. Intricate and poised.

2002: 15.5/20
Wild and showing pronounced development. Rich and broad. Juicy fruit, soft tannins.

2001: 17/20
Shy nose. Dark fruit on the nose and palate. Relatively full bodied with firm but fine tannins. Long, dry finish. Still surprisingly youthful.

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4 Comments

  1. KwispedoorApril 26, 2012 at 9:14 amReply

    Hmmm. Probably just a warmer year for that specific vineyard pocket – shows one can’t always generalize regarding vintage conditions.

  2. ChristianApril 25, 2012 at 11:26 pmReplyAuthor

    @Dieter: I defer to Mr Raats and other producers regarding pricing. @Kwispedoor: On the night, the winemaker bunched 2003, 2005 and 2008 together as “warmer” vintages and 2004, 2007 and 2010 as “cooler” vintages. 2002 and 2006 were termed “difficult” (and it showed). More generally, my observation would be that 2003 for top Stellenbosch red is as good as I’ve ever encountered from anywhere. 2009 too early to call but very promising…

  3. KwispedoorApril 25, 2012 at 10:09 pmReply

    2005 was a hot and early vintage, but surely 2003 was a pretty cool vintage though, wasn’t it Christian? Probably the second coolest of the decade after 2009?

  4. DieterApril 25, 2012 at 4:46 pmReply

    Can anyone explain why SA Cab Franc’s are so outrageously expensive? That Raats repects Loire examples more than Bordeaux comes as a real surpise as their pricing is a lot more Bordeaux than Loire – very decent Chinons and Bourgueils from excellent vintages are scandalously less than what the Raats go for.

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