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Weingut Kistenmacher & Hengerer, Cabernet Franc "Frederic", 2008

It's well known that for the first few years after planting, vines yield bumper harvests, but cannot quite produce the concentrated, characterful flavour in their grapes that old vines are renowned for. So it struck me as somewhat self-defeating when I saw "from young vines" clearly spelled out on this Swabian Cabernet Franc (yes, that's right: Swabian Cabernet Franc) - as far as I'm aware, there is no obligation for a wine grower to inform customers of this on their label. It's either unusually decent and straightforward of Hans Hengerer, who is still a fairly young vine himself, to put it on there.

Or, and this became more plausible for me with every sip of this wine - it is actually a teaser: "It's that good now. Just wait till you taste it when they're fully grown...". Because it actually is that good now:

A nose full of finest fresh berries (blueberries, raspberries, black currants), accompanied by vegetal notes at first (peppers, red beets, celery), but later more by moss and forest floor. This is wonderful. In fact, I upgraded this wine from marvellous to outstanding right after a second sniff a few hours later. Very dry, this wine hits your palate hard and long. Concentrated, spicy, with a cassis and juniper punch and confident tannins, yet no underripe harshness or green notes.

Thoroughly enjoyable, a powerful, concise effort. If I had opened a 20-30 € Cru Bourgeois or Chinon and this was what I'd got, I would have been very satisfied. It was way better with a vegetable bolognese than I dared to hope. But this calls for more cooking effort, a wine to get creative: Maybe leave it a few years longer (there is a second bottle) and then try it with a braised ox tongue and a spicy lentil salad?

This is not your typical Swabian red at all. I would never have guessed its origin in a blind tasting, but I dare to hope that quality like this will soon be the new normal from Kistenmacher & Hengerer, whom I have found to be consistently good. Just wait for those vines to grow up.

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