Frederic Mabileau Les Rouillčres St. Nicholas de Bourgeuil 2005
Cabernet Franc does yeoman work as a blending variety, but if winemaker Frederic Mabileau
has any say in the matter, it will play the starring role more often on the international stage.
The St. Nicholas de Bourgeuil appellation in the Loire's Touraine allows up to 10% Cabernet
Sauvignon, but this 100% Cabernet Franc (called Breton in this region) doesn't need
the help. In non-financial terms, the best way to classify this wine is to say it has a complex
nose but becomes soft and delightfully drinkable once in the mouth. Financially, since the
wine is $16, I can only refer you to Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson's remark in their
World Atlas of Wine that Touraine's red wines are “absurdly undervalued.”
The nose of the wine has significant floral elements, perfume constituents, though these are deep and sultry rather than light and flowery: violet with echoes of rose, couched in an earthy substrate of black olive and sweet dark mushroom. The fruit element is raspberry of a depth you don't often find in the berries themselves, unless you pick them yourself at the key point in the season. The fruit expands on the palate in concert with tannins and acidity that have fortitude, but yet round out into a redolent softness.
Frederic Mabileau cuts a photogenic figure standing among the old vines on his 27 hectare
estate. You get the idea that he's proud of being a young, with-it winemaker and at the same
time justly proud of the land that allows him to do such great things with such a civilized
Verdict: Don't drink it all at once
Seductive wines never hit you right in the face. They present their mysteries in layers and intoxicate you in stages.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman