andreaserben wrote:I do not think it is fair to 'take issue' if tasters perceive something green pepperish.
It is their individual perception on that given day, in their given situation, and stands on its own.
In their case - they had a lot of Zins, I think. This could lead to subtle peppery notes to stand out more in contrast to the Zin?
This reminds me when a bunch of us tasted a (non-winesmith) Chardonnay the other day, and we all got some buttery notes which might have not been overwhelming, but definitely were there, and the winemaker insisted that it is not buttery but 'their famous adult apple juice'. None of us perceived any apple though.
You are, of course, perfectly correct, and thanks for the back-atcha. I am touchier on this point than I probably ought to be for a couple reasons.
First of all, I know that woot does not offer CF with great frequency, and most folks haven't developed a very rich body of distinctions about it, so I'm trying to illustrate an important difference between these two characteristics.
Cabernet Franc is more sensitive to place of origin than perhaps any other variety (even Pinot Noir). But I always look for a trio of aromatic features: fruit, herb and spice. Be it basil, tarragon, rosemary or sage, this herbal note is an essential element of the expression of place.
Since most winegrowers treat CF just like Cab Sauv and Merlot (which need more pampering), it tends to get over-watered and grown in overly rich soils. It's incredibly vigorous, and will put out a huge leafy canopy which shades the fruit from direct sunlight, with the result of poor color, grainy texture (those go hand in hand) and the manufacture of pyrazines (bell pepper aromas) which are a bird repellent. This is because unilluminated berries have trouble maturing their seeds, and the vine tries to trick birds into staying away until the seeds are viable by keeping harsh tannin, low visibility, and the flavor of a leaf or stem.
The trick is to be a little mean to the variety by growing it on a limiting soil, so it puts its energy into the root system instead of the leafy canopy. We work hard at this, trying to keep the vine a little worried but never really stressed.
To sum up, herb is a mark of terroir expression, but bell pepper is a mark of poor understanding of this challenging grape. You are probably right that in a pack of Zinfandels, any Cab Franc will seem way more vegetal than it would by itself, or in a group of CF's. I hadn't considered that aspect, and I apologize for the chide. To paraphrase Walt Kelly, "we have met the jerkface, and he is us." Sigh.
All that said, I don't want to give the impression that I hate pyrazines. In my view, California winemakers go way to far overboard trying to eliminate any trace of vegetal character, particularly in Monterey, where wholesale planting of highly vigorous virus-free vines led to bigtime pyrazines in the 1970s (see http://wine.appellationamerica.com/best-of-appellation/Monterey-Wine-Diversity.html.
The result is that as a class, we are, I believe, overly "pyranoid." Our Sauvignon Blancs, for example, will never be taken seriously on the world stage without this herbal dimension that makes the SBs of Sancerre and Marlborough so exquisite.