In the Loire Valley, Cabernet Franc stands alone, usually as a red wine, but sometimes sparkling, or a rose. Just south, in Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc blends in with a team usually led by Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. The rest of the world generally followed Bordeaux’s path by growing Cabernet Franc to create a blend with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. While these Bordeaux style blends are certainly delicious, it’s a worthwhile endeavor to enjoy elegant, herbal Cabernet Franc on its own merits. And no better time than Cabernet Franc Day celebrated each year on Dec. 4. As we wrote in “Seven Reasons to Celebrate Cab Franc”-–
- Cabernet Franc came to the Loire Valley, France in the 17th Century thanks to Cardinal Richelieu who died on December 4 which is why Lori Budd chose to celebrate this grape on this day.
- Cabernet Franc is a parent of Cabernet Sauvignon (with Sauvignon Blanc no less as determined by DNA evidence in 1997; it’s also a parent of Carmenere (which we celebrate Nov. 24) and Merlot (which we celebrated Nov. 8). PS For Cab Sauv fan, we’re comparing Chilean with Californian this week!
- Cabernet Franc grounds classic Bordeaux blends (along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec) adding peppery earth, finesse, and depth.
- Cabernet Franc brings vegetal characteristics (from grass to leaves to bell pepper to green beans) to the palate.
- Cabernet Franc pairs exceptionally well with beef and cuts through rich heavy foods without being a rich heavy wine.
- Cabernet Franc offers a heady combination of aroma, spice, and fruit in a vibrantly colored container.
- Cabernet Franc’s popularity makes it one of the 20 most planted varietals in the world.
This year we decided to compare four Cabernet Franc from four regions and at a range of price points: South America from Domaine Bousquet, South Africa from Mulderbosch (SRP $40), East Coast US from Jones von Drehle Vineyards and Winery (SRP $28) and West Coast US from Charles Krug (SRP $80).
Cabernet Franc From Around The World
- South America: 2018 Domaine Bousquet’s Organic Gaia Cabernet Franc SRP $25
- East Coast US: 2017 Jones von Drehle Vineyards and Winery Cabernet Franc SRP $28
- South Africa: 2017 Mulderbosch Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc SRP $40
- West Coast US: Charles Krug Cabernet Franc SRP $80
- Caprese Salad
- Sweet Potatoes
- Smoked New York Steak
South America, Argentina, Mendoza:
2018 Domaine Bousquet’s Organic Gaia Cabernet Franc
Grapes: Cabernet Franc, made with organic grapes from the Gualtallary Vineyards
Importer: WISD LLC
Narrative: 4000 ft altitude. Will add more ASAP.
Appearance: Dark and dense maroon, deep ruby, garnet rim
Aroma: Earthy, duff, mushrooms, woody, green bean, jasmine green tea, jalapeno pepper, musky, nicely balanced for 15% alcohol
Palate: The forest comes across the palate, a bit of bell pepper, very smooth, good structure, balanced tannins, actually quite an elegant wine. great value, nice fresh cherry finish, nice depth of flavor.
Pairing: The steak is very nice with the wine. The seasoning and the grill marry nicely. It likes the spicy arugula in the salad and the creaminess of the burrata is so nice. The spicy arugula changes the finish of the wineWe loved how the wine danced with the rosemary in the risotto. This wine loves rosemary as a spice. If we had put rosemary on the sweet potato it would have been a perfect match.
East Coast US, North Carolina, Yadkin Valley
2017 Jones von Drehle Vineyards and Winery Cabernet Franc
Grapes: Cabernet Franc
Narrative: Not flawed, but a little odd. Bad label. But often good wines have bad labels. A few days later the wine was quite elegant, nothing odd about it at all. Will add more ASAP.
Appearance: Very pale almost looks like a Pinot, not a lot of skin contact??? very light, pale garnet, watermelon rim
Aroma: Cherry, menthol, cherry cough syrup, V8, tomato leaf rather than tomato, a bit of green bean, celery, as it opens up, more of the fruit comes through, black pepper,
Palate: Light, clean, bright fruit, raspberry, balanced not round like a Cab Franc from France it is lacking something. It is quaffable, pleasant, and interesting that we were tasting a wine from North Carolina. I was really bothered by this wine at first after it opened up and the wine changed in the glass I warmed up to this wine. After it opens up there is nice cherry on the palate
Pairing: The smoky richness of the meat is nice with the wine. It also likes the richness of the sweet potato to enhance its richness. It goes well with the broccoli, we thought roasted Brussel sprouts would be perfect with the wine loving the char and the green richness of the Brussel sprouts.
I felt that at first this wine was weird and I didn’t want to taste or write about this wine, however Sue talked me into going through the motions and doing our thing with the wine. It came through The wine while it did not shine like raw North Star, but it did perform pleasureablely in a unique way.
2017 Mulderbosch Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc
Grapes: Cabernet Franc
Importer: Third Leaf Wines
Narrative: Beautiful aroma, disappointing palate. Will add more ASAP.
Appearance: Dense, plum, ruby, ruby rim, a bit cloudy, you cannot see it,
Aroma: Green beans, green bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, Shelia “It smells like stuffed bell peppers with Italian sausage” Fennel, caraway, Unusual and so appealing, Sue wanted to dive right into the class,
Palate: The palate is not as pleasing as the nose, there is a lot at the front of the palate and then it disappears. For $40 you should expect more. It is not bad or flawed, but the palate is a bit disappointing, cherry up front and a quickly disappearing saline finish.
Pairing: The wine loves the herbs in the risotto. the smoked part of the steak was nice with the wine. It likes the broccoli. This would be a great vegetarian or vegan meal wine. It does not fight with broccoli at all which is a very difficult food to pair with wine. The steak is also great with the wine. Earthy strong cheeses also work well with the wine.
West Coast US: California, Napa Valley
Charles Krug Cabernet Franc
Grapes: Cabernet Franc
Appearance: Plum with a ruby rim, a bit cloudy
Aroma: Oak enhances the wine, vanilla, spicy, plum pie with all of the baking spices, pastry fresh out of the oven, boysenberry, blueberry, pretty, like a lovely woman perfume, herbal notes on the nose are a bit more herbal than pyroxene, yet there are some green elements.
Palate: Very smooth and elegant, soft tannins, suede, cherry pipe tobacco, ripe fruit finish, the pleasing ripe fruit on the finish invites you to go back for a second Sio. There is a dryness that makes you want to go back for more.
Pairing: Absoutely friggin fantastic with the steak. you don’t need anything else on your plate to enjoy this wine. The steak is a good quality steak and it was seasoned perfectly, and it was smoked. Sue wanted this wine with blue cheese. This wine can handle strong cheeses. blue cheese melted on to the steak would be wonderful. Sue did try it and steak and blue cheese was a hit. It also went perfectly with our mushroom risotto. It loves the rich earthy qualities in the dish. It also went well with the sweet potato. The salad went well with the salad as side on your plate it went well, but if it was a coursed meal with the salad, it would not work so well. This wine really wants the char that the grill can bring. Think grilled steak, baked potatoes on the grill.
This is very much a new world wine, It is rich and spicy, big and bold, one would never confuse this with an old world wine.
Happy Cabernet Franc Day! Once again, thanks to founder Lori Hoyt-Budd of Dracaena Wines in Paso Robles, the yearly event on Dec. 4th shares love for the grape and the wines made with it.