A Bounty of Cabernet Franc

It’s an age old tale of forbidden romance resulting in a child out of wedlock. This child, a son, has a rivalry with his father. The child grows to become a confident, assured, ruler. He is loved by all, adored throughout the world. The rivalry begins to dwindle because the son has all the power, all the glory. However, the son did not realize the father had a champion, his prominence was on the rise, his cause taken up by a few. Then, one cold day in December 2015, everything started to change….

Last year Lori Budd, owner with husband Mike, of Dracaena Winery in Paso Robles and winemaker of Cabernet Franc set out on a one-woman campaign to create a day acknowledging Cabernet Franc. Lori selected December 4 as international #CabFrancDay because “Cabernet Franc is believed to have been established in the Libournais region of southwest France sometime in the 17th century, when Cardinal Richelieu transported cuttings of the vine to the Loire Valley. December 4th is the anniversary of Cardinal Richelieu’s death.” I hope you joined in the 2nd official #CabFrancDay celebrations last Sunday. In addition to honoring Cabernet Franc on December 4th our #WinePW group is celebrating the grape today with plenty of delicious pairings.

Many wine lovers know Cabernet Franc as one of the five Bordeaux grapes, predominately used as a “blending” grape. Though Cab Franc is the dad to Cabernet Sauvignon do not confuse the two grapes for offering the same flavors and textures. Cabernet Franc is a thin-cabernet-franc-grapesskinned black grape that results in light to medium body wine that typically delivers flavors of red fruit and soft blue fruits, chili peppers, bell peppers, and at times spice notes, savory herbal notes and a crushed stone minerality. It is also typically less tannic, less acidity and more cold hardy than Cabernet Sauvignon. It typically ripens a week earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon. Regions best known for Cabernet Franc include the appellations of St. Emilion and Pomerol in Bordeaux, and the Loire Valley. However, today Cabernet Franc is one of the world’s 20 most planted grapes and can be found growing in Italy, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, United States, Chile, Argentina, and in Canada where it is crafted into Ice Wine. In the US Cabernet Franc has seen a rise in plantings and success in California, Washington, Virginia and Long Island.

Cabernet Franc is a food friendly wine. Because its characteristics overlap with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot it pairs well with most of the same foods. However, there are a few key notes to pairing foods with Cab Franc; first, its naturally higher acidity means it will pair well with tomato based dishes such as sauces, stews, and roasts; second, because of its natural pepper notes it pairs well with dishes that include a variety of peppers and savory herbal notes such as thyme, coriander, and oregano; finally, it enjoys being paired with hearty vegetables such as beans, mushrooms, and lentils.


I was blessed to receive 6 media samples in honor of #CabFrancDay. Here some brief notes on each wine and a delicious pairing:

2014 Brecon Estate Cabernet Franc Paso Robles USA ($56): 87% Cabernet Franc, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot; rich notes of red and black fruit layered with soft notes of dried violets, dried savory herbal notes, touch of tobacco, and dusty earth; juicy fruit hits palate first, followed by balanced notes of earthiness; full-body, complex, mouth-coating, really nice, long finish.

2013 Ehlers Estate Cabernet Franc St Helena USA ($60): 100% Cabernet Franc; black and red berries and plums, warm baking spice notes, fresh picked savory herbal notes, toasted walnuts, touch of sweet tobacco with a vanilla finish; warm and rich, organic, an exquisite example of cab franc, full-body, round on the palate, pleasing in every way.

2013 Gibbs Napa Valley Carpenter Vineyard Cabernet Franc St Helena USA ($25): 95% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot; dark red fruit, warm baking spices, tobacco, black pepper; needs some time to open, recommend decanting, rich and round, complex layers of flavors, tannins tight but tamed with oxygen; well-structured, full body, long, mouth-coating finish; great value.

2014 Glorie Farm Winery Estate Cabernet Franc Hudson River Region USA ($19): 100% Cabernet Franc; rich and deep notes of dark fruit, black tea, damp tobacco leaves, warm spices, licorice, black pepper and a hint of vanilla; juicy and elegant, thought provoking, full-body, penetrating the palate, rich texture, a wine of distinction worth seeking out for $19.

2015 Leah Jørgensen Cellars Blanc de Cabernet Franc Oregon USA ($30): 100% Cabernet Franc gently pressed and immediately removed from the skins to create this white wine from red grapes; delivers fruit notes of stone fruit and citrus with a tease of soft raspberries, still offers notes of warm baking spices, with fresh picked savory herbal notes, and white tea; interesting to compare the blanc to the rest of the reds, some notes still present; however, fruit notes altered significantly; complex and dazzling wine, I seriously want more. First wine of its kind.

2015 Leah Jørgensen Cellars Cabernet Franc Oregon USA ($25): 100% Cabernet Franc crafted in the style of Loiregonian style of Chinon, soft notes of red fruit are joined by bright red floral notes, warm baking spices with lots of cinnamon, earthy notes of tobacco, black tea, cedar bark, toasted walnuts and dried savory herbs; lightest of the offerings but exquisitely elegant and nuanced, just my style of old world charm, warm and inviting on the palate yet balanced in structure, firm tannins complete the full sophistication of this beautiful wine.

2014 Robiero Cabernet Franc New York State USA ($22): 92% Cabernet Franc, 8% Petit Verdot; vibrant purple with garnet hues; very juicy ripe blackberries, blueberries, cherries, and black raspberries, soft notes of warm spices, touch of tobacco; really juicy fruit forward palate, very new world style, integrated tannins with balanced acidity; medium body, pleasing wine for the modern wine lover.

My formal wine and food pairing involved the Ehler’s Estate Cabernet Franc with a delicious meal of Braised Lamb Shanks and Beans, perfect for a cold, rainy weekend. The meal was inspired by an article by FoodWineClick, it was a truly perfect pairing with the cab franc.




The following night we enjoyed an additional food and wine pairing of lentil soup and Robiero Cabernet Franc. Another delicious cool, rainy weekend meal!


Please check out more delicious Cabernet Franc food and wine pairing ideas from my fellow #WinePW friends:

Nancy from PullThatCork  chose to have An Elegant Cabernet Franc Pairing for #WinePW

Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla decided to make Apple-Braised Duck Legs + Dracaena’s Cab Franc

Lori of Dracaena Wines will examining Cabernet Franc; the Versatile Cab

Cindy of Grape Experiences will Wine and Dine: Cabernet Franc and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Jeff of FoodWineClick declares Cab Franc: Never Say Never

Gwendolyn of ArtPredator  found some Cabernet Franc Winners With Osso Bucco, Squash Casserole

Lauren of the SwirlingDervish created a Super Fast, Super Good: Sausage and Potato Pan Roast with Dracaena Wines Cabernet Franc

Jade of TastingPour will be talking about  Leah Jorgensen Cellars: Faces of Cab Franc

David of CookingChat will be preparing Roasted Sirloin Steak with Avocado Sauce for #CabFrancDay

Wendy of A Day in the Life of on the Farm will be having a A Celebration with Cab Franc

Martin of enofylzwineblog has found A Captivating Cab Franc Paired with Sushi

Do you have a favorite Cabernet Franc producer? What is your favorite region that produces Cab Franc? Favorite food pairing?

Join us for part two of #CabFrancDay discussion this morning at 10am when we gather on Twitter using #WinePW to share our findings of Cabernet Franc.

Get your own bottle of Cabernet Franc and let me know what song you pair with it. Cheers!

25 responses to “A Bounty of Cabernet Franc”

  1. Thanks for all of your support! You stated exactly what I tell everyone “Because its characteristics overlap with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot it pairs well with most of the same foods”

  2. I am so glad you got to try some of Leah’s wines. I have visited at Brecon too – right after they got their tasting room open. Very nice people and the indoor/outdoor design of the room feels modern, artistic, and welcoming all at once. Also, big fan of lentil soup.

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