Have you noticed everybody is talking about Cabernet Franc lately? It’s no surprise—Cabernet Franc has medium body and moderate tannin and acidity with great texture that makes it a worthy addition to the dinner table. Cabernet Franc offers up the softer side of Cabernet Sauvignon, to which it is the parent grape.
Here are some capsule reviews of Cabernet Franc you may find along the Wine Road.
This Alexander Valley Vineyards 2020 Cabernet Franc grown in Alexander Valley is 100% Cab Franc with a deep purple color. On the nose a distinct mocha note, reminiscent of Aztec Hot Chocolate that combines cocoa powder, cinnamon, vanilla, and chili powders. It’s like s’mores in glass! On the palate, tart and juicy with flavors of cherry, raspberry, strawberry, cassis and touch of black pepper along with a persistent cocoa note. Plush mouth feel with and taut fine tannins. Pair with lamb kebabs.
From Oak Knoll district in Napa, the Cast 2019 Cabernet Franc is full of energy. Notes of mint, plum and strawberry on the nose. The palate is full of texture, with juicy plush mouthfeel and taut fine tannins. Flavors of mulberry, tart cherry a touch of thyme with a savory note of nutmeg. Still young, this wine will only get better with age, but it’s delightful now. Pair with a classic French Onion soup and crusty bread.
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The Colagrossi 2018 Cease & Desist Cabernet Franc from Alexander Valley will grab your attention from the first whiff with a beguiling aroma consisting of strawberry, sweet tobacco with a trace of bell pepper. On the palate, notes of gravel, boysenberry and raspberry. Great texture with fine tannins and a bright note of spice and brambles. It’s like sunlight breaking through the fog—soft, yet warm and rich. Pair with Chicken Enchiladas.
Warm and welcoming, like pulling on your favorite sweater, the Meeker Vineyard 2018 Cabernet Franc from Dry Creek Valley is a spicy sipper for winter nights. On the nose you’ll find juniper, pink peppercorn, lanolin and a faint note of cherry blossom. On the palate an array of flavors with bell pepper, jalapeño, and clay pot. The fine tannins and long bright finish carry through with notes of red currant and tart cherry. Supple and alive now, but will age beautifully over the long term. Try pairing with mushroom and sausage lasagna.
The Mounts 2018 Cabernet Franc from Dry Creek Valley bursts from the glass with earthy scents of dried strawberry, raspberry, cayenne, crushed gravel, sweet briar, and saddle leather. It giddy-yaps across the palate with grace. Plump mouthfeel with great texture and tannin structure featuring balanced flavors of sugarplum, chili pepper, boysenberry, licorice, and tart cherry. The long finish is deep and rich with notes of bright cranberry at the end. Pair with pork tenderloin.
The Peterson 2014 Cabernet Franc from Bradford Mountain Estate in Dry Creek Valley is comprised of 80% Cab Franc 15% Merlot 5% Petit Verdot. It’s a magical confluence of fruit and tannin with aromas of cherry, dried strawberry, vanilla, chaparral (sage and cedar) and mocha. Soft and lovely on the palate it has both lift and depth with rich flavors of sweet tobacco, Aztec Chocolate, red plum, strawberry and a whiff of petrichor. Pair with maple cherry glazed Duck Confit.
The Ramazzotti 2018 Cabernet Franc, Alexander Valley, from the famed Pigoni Ranch vineyard is a gorgeous deep garnet in the glass. On the nose it’s bright and aromatic with scents of raspberry, strawberry, sweet briar, coffee bean, cola and a faint note of fennel. On the palate, it opens with juicy raspberry, followed by paprika, thyme, tart cherry and a heavenly note of mochaccino on the long finish. Soft tannins make this an easy sipper that will pair great with dishes as varied as Chile Rellenos to Moroccan Beef stew.
The Robert Young 2019 Cabernet Franc from Alexander Valley has an awesome cherry cola scent that reminds me of Mr. PiBB!—a spicy, cherry pepper mix that’s simply fabulous along with soft notes of caramel and sweet bell pepper. On the palate, it’s soft and plush with warm notes of dried tobacco, sage, black cherry and bright cranberry on the long finish. Still quite young, this wine will benefit from a few more years of age. Hold on to it if you can—this wine is going places and you will want to be there when it arrives! Only 16 barrels produced. Pair with a majestic crown roast of pork; its inherent drama will be equal to the wine.