Cabernet Franc is one of the most underrated wines in the wine world. Sure it gets a little bit of recognition in Bordeaux, but it still doesn't get as much press as Cabernet Sauvignon or even Merlot. It doesn't have the cachet of Pinot Noir or the punch of Syrah or the zing of Zinfandel. It's too intellectual a grape to get any of the buzz. It's the unsung hero of the red wine world, doomed to be loved only by the wine geeks. Well, it just so happens that I am a wine geek and I love Cabernet Franc, and I am going to tell you why.

People try to grow Cabernet Franc in different parts of the world, but it is really best when it is grown in the Loire Valley. The grape thrives in the soil, a mixture of clay, limestone and flint, and benefits from the cool weather. The resulting wines are at once light and elegant yet silky and full. You get the perfect expression of the grape, red fruit and minerals with a bit of pepper spice. They are the perfect bistro pour, pairing well with a half roast chicken, grilled salmon or even a marinated skirt steak. You can even chill them down a bit, making them one of the best reds for Spring and Summer. They can satisfy your need for a red wine without weighing you down and blasting you with hard tannins.

Domaine Roches Neuves is located in Saumur-Champigny, an area thought by many to be the best place for Cabernet Franc in the Loire. The owner, Theirry Germain is one of a handful of producers in his appellation to farm naturally, using only homemade compost for fertilizer. His wines are all hand harvested and fermented using natural yeast. This wine is Germain's entry level bottle made from %100 Cabernet Franc. The nose is all dark red fruit with the characteristic green pepper notes you get with Cab Franc. The palate is incredibly smokey, with more red fruit and really nice acidity. It's a beautiful expression of the grape, perfect really. A great wine to appreciate with the also underrated stylings of Jethro Tull.

THIERRY GERMAIN DOMAINE DES ROCHES NEUVES CABERNET FRANC, 2006