Smell is closely associated with memory, something that wine reminds us of at the most unexpected times. Sometimes, when sticking your nose in a glass as a mere formality, a wave of recognition washes over. I once blind-tasted a wine so striking that, although I couldn’t pinpoint the producer, grape, or region, I immediately recollected the date, location, and weather of the one time that I had previously tasted it. I could even remember what I’d been wearing.

Domaine des Hauts de Sanziers Rouge

Anyone who has experienced Cabernet Franc might feel similarly about the Domaine des Hauts de Sanziers Saumur 2016. It’s the kind of textbook iteration that will make Cabernet Franc loyalists wax nostalgic about their first sip of the wine, while urging newcomers to add it to their regular rotation of grape varieties. This bottle is not from the most famous Cabernet Franc region, Chinon; but it comes from Loire Valley vineyards located just next door, in Saumur.

With the first whiff, it’s clear that this is pure Cabernet Franc. Just-juiced plums, cranberries, and blackberries jump from the glass, along with green grass damp with morning dew. Imagine stepping outside at a farm just after dawn, the temperature still brisk, scents of dark, hearty earth pervading the air. This feeling carries through on the palate, the fruit snapping with acidity before softening and cooling the mouth, so much so that it makes a great pairing for spicy, savory curry. Fresh and clean, here’s a reminder of all the reasons why you fell in love with this grape in the first place.

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