Cabernet Franc is an underdog variety, always in the shadow of its more popular relative, Cabernet Sauvignon. We can understand though, with its green herbaceous notes and austere fruit, Cabernet Franc can be a challenging to like; but we have a soft spot for the underdogs and more interesting varietals (this is one of our favorites!).
Cab Franc can make truly phenomenal wines when given the chance. It is an incredibly versatile food wine, able to pair deftly with nearly everything from goat cheeses to braised meats. Now that our El Niño winter has officially arrived, make friends with Franc over a dinner of Braised Lamb Shank Ragu with Baia Pasta (read on for our recipe). From the Loire Valley to the West Coast, we’re featuring producers who are making some of the best examples of this variety – we’re looking forward to introducing you to our friend Franc.
Baudry Chinon “Les Granges” Loire, France 2014 | $19.99
Bernard Baudry is one of the superstars in Chinon. He is blessed with having varied soil types in his vineyards, and showcases them through different cuvees. He has a light touch with Cab Franc so the terroir really shines in his wines. Les Granges is Baudry’s first release and most youthful wine, that is meant to drink young. It is supple and fruity with smoky cherry fruit. It is the perfect wine for simple food and cheeses.
Breton Bourgueil Nuits d’Ivresse 2014 | $34.99
Catherine and Pierre Breton are passionate about biodynamics and organic viticulture. They work with several sites and makes different cuvees from them. Their wines are made with such great integrity but also have wonderful charm and generosity. The Nuits d’Ivresse, “Drunken Nights,” is the name of a special cuvee of selected old vines in Bourgueil. It’s an homage to natural wine pioneer Jules Chauvet, and does not see a drop of sulfur throughout its lifetime. We also have a limited amount of Breton Bourgeuil “Les Perrieres” 2003 ($79.99). This is the Breton’s greatest red, from one of the most prized hillside parcels in Bourgeuil. It’s also special treat to have a 12-year-old bottling that is drinking beautifully right now.
Lang & Reed Cabernet Franc North Coast, CA 2013 | $24.99
Lang & Reed was started by Tracey and John Skupny in 1996 to focus solely on Cabernet Franc in Napa Valley, a rarity to this day. They were inspired from their trip to notable wine regions in France: Loire and Bordeaux. They seek to produce similar wines here in California and have found much success. This Cab Franc is a bold “true-to-varietal” expression from California. It has aromas of raspberry and cherry with highlights of herb and wet stone. Really mouthwatering, this is best served with family and friends.
Bow & Arrow “Air Guitar” Cab Franc Willamette, Oregon 2014 | $24.99
Bow & Arrow wines was started by winemaker Scott Frank and his wife, Dana Frank. Both are obsessed with the Loire Valley, and seek to make wines inspired by the Loire but made in Portland. The Air Guitar proves that Oregon is not just Pinot country: this is a blend of Cab Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from two very cool vineyards. Fresh red and black fruits and a dash of herbal charm, this is great with roast chicken.