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….
Two years ago 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.” This means today is #CabFrancDay! Please grab a bottle of your favorite Cabernet Franc and join the festivities tonight on both Twitter and Facebook!
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-skinned 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 and beans, mushrooms, and lentils.
In honor of #CabFrancDay I received four media samples to celebrate the day. These wines span the coasts of the US including New York, New Jersey, Paso Robles, and Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. Here are my thoughts on these four wines:
2016 Chateau Niagara Cabernet Franc New York USA ($29.99): medium- ruby; medium- aromas of cherries, cranberries, plums, blueberries, baking spice, bell pepper, violets, dried herbs, white pepper; dry with medium body, tannins, and acidity, and flavor intensity, notes of juicy fresh red and black berries persist on palate with notes of white pepper and herbs as well, youthful and not complex but is well balanced with good structure, easy to drink and enjoy. No production information provided. Click to buy.
2015 William Heritage Cabernet Franc Outer Coastal Plain New Jersey USA ($29.99): medium ruby; medium- youthful aromas of red cherry, black plum, currants, pomegranate, roses, white pepper; full body with medium tannins, medium acidity, medium+ flavor intensity with notes of black plum, black cherry, red currants, prominent bell pepper, licorice, charred wood, and nutmeg; medium finish. Click to buy.
2015 Draceana Wines Cabernet Franc Paso Robles USA ($32): medium+ ruby; medium+ developing aromas of black cherry, red plum, blackberry, black raspberry, blackcurrant leaf, dried thyme, lavender, cloves, nutmeg, chocolate, and vanilla; medium acidity, medium+ tannins, medium+ body and flavor intensity of slightly preserved black plum, blackberry, red cherry, red currant, dried thyme, fennel, white pepper, chocolate, cinnamon, and vanilla; spicy finish; really nice earthy wine. Click to buy.
2012 Merriam Vineyards Cabernet Franc Windacre Vineyard Russian River Valley Estate Sonoma USA ($40): 90% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon; deep ruby; medium aromas of rose petals, black currant, baked plum, red cherry, green bell pepper, white pepper, chocolate, cloves, nutmeg, vanilla; medium acidity, tannins, body, and flavor intensity; pronounced baked plum, cloves, charred wood, and bell pepper on the palate, medium finish. Click to buy.
I chose a classic pairing with these four wines: peppered filet, warm potato and pancetta salad, and haricot verts. It was a wonderful meal that we enjoyed while watching the Big 10 Championship game. What is your favorite Cab Franc pairing?
Join in the #CabFrancDay chat tonight on Twitter at 8 EST. Then at 9 EST stay with us as the virtual tasting featuring 15 wineries begins! It is sure to be a lot of fun. Share your Cab Franc photos on your favorite social media platform and tag me so we can enjoy #CabFrancDay together!