Many years ago (1984) I was Consulting Winemaker/Manager to Kies Winery at Lyndoch in the southern Barossa Valley.
Walking into the fermentation room one morning there was a lovely floral smell of violets coming from one particular tank, something not experienced before. It was Cabernet Franc from Kies own vineyards, in full ferment.
So distinctly violet-like I never forgot the circumstance, little knowing that one day I would be looking for it.
Little Cabernet Franc was grown in Barossa, and for that matter elsewhere in Australia in the 50s and 60s, and that begs the question, Why? Especially when Cabernet Franc is such a vital part of French winemaking.
Well the answer in Barossa was simple – prices paid for Cabernet Franc were low, and it was a “scatty” vine to pick (in days before mechanical harvesting), and lastly the winemakers were not keen on the variety at all.
When we first started planting Merlot in Eden Valley in 1983 the research reading of winemaking in Pomerol and St Emilion had so many mentions of the use of Cabernet Franc that my curiosity about it just grew and grew, and of course, it jogged back clearly that memory of the Kies winery.
If Cabernet Franc is such a “big deal” in its home country, why wasn’t it so here in Australia?
As always curiosity gets the better of you and there was only one way to find out – make some yourself and try out all those combinations that the research had shown.
Will it work here? Who knows? Let’s try it.
So armed with the information from the many readings, the trials began on the bench.
Then tiny bottlings of these trials and finally a range of wines using Cabernet Franc in various combinations with Merlot; with Cabernet Sauvignon; and on its own.
This resulted in two very successful wines. As a Super Premium: The Baroness.
A combination of Grand Merlot from our Springhill Vineyard and the two Cabernets from Barossa.
This wine stood high in global competition, winning many awards.
And “Red Horse” as our medium bodied blend of Estate Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
Such a lovely rewarding, easy drinking wine with loads of flavour above the medium weighted style.
Try it when you find it. See if I am right after the second taste – or two.