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Cabernet Franc is more often seen in blends, usually with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot; on its own it must be allowed to ripen fully to avoid green flavours and to allow the beautiful fruit and floral characteristics to develop. You might think that Canada therefore would not be the ideal place for Cabernet Franc - in fact, the Niagara Peninsula, home to the Canadian wine appellation Niagara Lakeshore for which this wine qualifies, is perfect as it is situated on the banks of Lake Ontario and its proximity to water means that high summer temperatures are reduced and that the ripening period for grapes is extended.
This 100% Cabernet Franc is full of fruit & floral aromas and the flavours are equally as complex. Red fruits like raspberries, ripe cherries with cassis and a touch of vanilla. The oak ageing has not been overdone, only 10% new oak is used, and the tannins are smooth; tannins in Cabernet Franc are less pronounced than in Cabernet Sauvignon to put them into context.
The wine-maker, J-L Groux, is from the Loire Valley originally and he's become known as one of Niagara's winemaking pioneers. His aim is for outstanding wines with “powerful aromatics, a round mouthfeel, complexity, significant length and the capability of aging at least seven to 10 years” which he has certainly achieved here. Simplicity is the key - Stratus is a gravity flow winery, the first in the world to be LEED certified (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) and the wine is certified sustainable.
Recommended with steak, beef casseroles, lamb, chicken, turkey and smooth enough to have with pork dishes also. Also good with cheese, tomato-based dishes, mushrooms, roast vegetables etc. The producer says "All the wines from Château Gaby pair well with buttery foods, sharp cheeses, roasted meats, and veal."
It is worth decanting and letting this wine breathe for an hour or so before serving - read my blog on decanting for more information. There may be a little sediment
"Cabernet Franc makes up the backbone of the Stratus Vineyard, its expression in both our assemblage and as a single varietal forms an integral part of the Stratus personality. This newest release shows the grape's aromatic power with notes of cassis, raspberry cream, and deep violet, alongside earthy tones of white pepper and wood spice. The palate has incredible density and a rich texture balancing the ripe tannins that will only add to the wines character over time."
92 points WineAlign Mar 2020
"This is both solid and engaging. Good weight, density and structure all round, with a very fragrant nose involving violets, raspberry, cedar and vanilla, that come together with real flair. It is medium-full bodied with a smooth mid-palate that gives way to firm, grippy tannin and more wood on the finish. The length is excellent."
92 points Wines In Niagara Jan 2021
"This is a textbook example of well-made Cabernet Franc from the Niagara Lakeshore sub-appellation. The wine is aged for 534 days in French oak, 23% of which is new oak. The nose show aromas of brambly raspberries, dark cherries, cassis, minty herbs, anise and wood spice notes. It’s highly structured on the palate with grippy tannins in support of savoury red berries, juicy, ripe cassis, lovely spicy notes with subtle herbs and bright acidity on the finish. Can cellar for 5+ years to tame those tannins and soften the acidity."
17 points JancisRobinson.com Mar 2021
"Chocolate and raspberries, with a first note that tastes precisely like shiitake mushrooms, tamari, wasabi and mirin mixed to a paste. This is rather fabulous. It has flair that verges on the outrageous, it trips the light fantastic. It's heady and hedonistic, chocolate violets and chocolate-dipped cherries, pink pepper and peppermint cream. The tannins are a brush in the hands of a chocolatier. Astounding balance and 'drinkability' for a 14.8% wine."
Sustainably produced Cabernet Franc from Niagara in Canada, this wine is packed full of flavours and according to one wine critic it also has astounding balance and drinkability. Superb!