Franc VS. Franc
On this night, I planned to match a good red wine to basic roast duck with a honey-orange glaze. While my first instincts went to Pinot Noir (I had a nice Oregon specimen in mind), I had a second thought about the orange. Acid can kill a wine that's not up to the battle. That's why so many salad dressings can make your wine taste nasty or dull. Then I had a third thought...in the last year I've had a brief infatuation with Cabernet Franc. I tend to like the harsh little rude grapes that usually only get used in blends to add tannins, or body, or acid. Cab Franc is one of those little rudies. It comes on with a tart black cherry and raspberry flavor, but then puckers you up, all the time smelling like roses and violets. A vicious little fighter that can slam duck fat to the floor, then do a dance-off with citrus. So I packed two for dinner. I was interested in a new world/old world face-off. In this corner, Beaucanon Estate:A little over-oaked I thought, it had a Cabernet Sauvignon nose, but opened to a lot of interesting flavors not typical in California reds. A deep dark color, with hints of amber at the rim speaking to age and oak. about $27. The beer aficianados in the group (who I did not know had a "thing" against Cali reds) were mildly surprised. And in this corner, Breton's Trinch! ("trinch" = "clink" in French, like you're toasting): The Loire region in France is an area that produces almost exclusively Cabernet Franc as its red option (the whites are many and legendary). The Trinch! was not as interesting on the nose initially, but like most French reds, was MADE for food. I'm not sure if this was oaked or stored in stainless, but wood was a very light touch in comparison. The younger Trinch! had a faint purple tone, almost blue at the rim. Violets covered the nose initially with a faint rose aroma, a satisfying black cherry taste, and a longer finish. Paired with the honey-orange duck it cleaned the palette like cranberry with turkey. About $20. The judges call? Drink the Californian while cooking, but save the French contender for a mouthful of duck-fat…which is where the real Battle Royale is taking place.