Maison Noire Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Franc 2015 $25

Cabernet Franc is just the sexiest wee red grape, and yet it’s very rarely made into wine on its own. Crafted by Guillaume Thomas from his tiny vineyard on the Waimarama Road, this new 2015 vintage is ultra-floral and rock-solid with spices and racy, raspberry/cranberry characters.  The tannins are lithe and slippery and silk-lined.  Think pomegranate and plum layers on the finish and an easy, plush mouthfeel.  It’s a lighter-styled sip but perfect for gamey dishes like duck casserole or tender, smoky venison backstraps.