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What our expert thought of Château Franc-Cardinal, Francs Côtes de Bordeaux

the tasting

The Tasting

A deepish garnet, this isn’t quite as dark as I was expecting from a wine with so much skin contact.
The medium nose is classic claret: dusty blackcurrant and cigar box.  (For those too young to remember those, pencil shavings or cedar wood comes close.)  There are black cherries too, along with plenty of dried herbs (especially bay leaf) and a forest floor earthiness – what the French would call sous-bois.
The palate is very dry and only medium-bodied despite the 13.5% alcohol.  The earthy flavours are mouthfilling yet hard to separate out – leafy, unsweet blackcurrant, dusty bramble and red plum.
There’s an iron tang too, that continues into the medium+, slightly warming but definitely not sweet finish, which features a nice balance between fresh acidity and silky tannins.  The acidity just wins, so that the wine finishes dry but not drying.


Amazing to think that this mostly Merlot!  It’s nothing like Merlots from the New World, or even from Italy.  But it is archetypal right-bank claret, demonstrating how the combination of Merlot and Cabernet Franc produces something unique when grown in Bordeaux’s climate and soil.
By Bordeaux standards this is ripe and round and, with its earthy, dusty character, perhaps a little rustic.  But it is also elegant and well-balanced, fresh yet satisfying, and very moreish.  Four and a half years is quite young for good claret, but this 2012 is very accessible and absolutely ready to drink… with food, naturally!

A classic claret from Bordeaux, this French red wine is made with organic grapes. It is elegant and well-balanced, fresh yet satisfying, and very moreish.

Tasting notes

clear medium+ garnet

Intensity medium

Aromas black fruit (blackcurrant, cherry), cigar box, dried herbs (bay leaf), forest floor.

Development developing

Sweetness very dry

Acidity medium(+, just)

Body medium, despite 13.5%

Tannins medium-, velvety

Intensity medium

Flavours black fruit (leafy blackcurrant, dusty bramble), red fruit (plum), mineral (earth, iron)

Length medium

Flavours mineral (iron), slightly warming, dry but not drying, great acid/tannin balance (acid wins, just)
Other notes
Classic right-bank claret on nose & palate, perhaps slightly rustic but well-balanced. Ready to drink despite youth. Restrained use of oak.

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