Elegant and expressive, though often just thought about as a blending variety, Cabernet Franc is finally coming into its own. Wineries all over the world are embracing the grape, crafting single variety wines and Cabernet Franc dominant blends, highlighting notes of purple flowers, blueberries, blackberries, and woody herbs. Here are a few to consider. (Some selections were sent for editorial consideration.)
In Sonoma, Tuscany and Bordeaux, celebrated winemaker Pierre Seillan reveals the beauty and structure of the grape while allowing each individual micro-climate to shine. With Arcanum ($100), he showcases how the rolling hillsides of Tuscany, Italy are the ideal place for growing earthy Cabernet Franc. Chateau Lassegue St. Emilion Grand Cru ($100) highlights Right Bank Bordeaux terroir giving a mineral note to the concentrated Cabernet Franc and old-vine Merlot-based wine. The ultra-premium Verite Le Desir ($400) reveals structure and concentration with dried blueberry, cherry, and toasted spice with a tannic backbone making this a wine that can be enjoyed now after a bit of decanting or held for years.
Columbia Winery 2015 Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Franc ($35) showcases aromatic floral and herbal notes on the open, leading to layers of toasted spice and a touch of vanilla enhanced by 16 months of oak aging in partially new French and American oak. A beautiful wine especially for the price.
From Argentina, Argento Reserva Cabernet Franc ($18), grown in the Lujan de Cuyo district of Mendoza, is bold, full-bodied and structured, with a touch of soft herbal notes, pairing beautifully with hearty meat dishes with chimichurri famous throughout the country.
From Robert Mondavi Winery, a new selection from the Oakville AVA, using fruit primarily from their celebrated To Kalon Vineyard, their 2014 Oakville Cabernet Franc ($65) melds bright cherry and berry with ripe tannins and lively acidity for a balanced offering that is ideal for pairing with braised or roasted meat or game dishes.
Justin Winery in Paso Robles blends predominantly Cabernet Franc with Merlot in their 2015 Justification creating a balanced, structured and juicy expression of both varieties that defines why Paso Robles is one of an ideal place for growing expressive Bordeaux varieties. ($50, at Total Wine.)
Walla Walla’s Pepper Bridge Winery features a Cabernet Franc-dominant Bordeaux style wine with their 2014 Trine ($65). Refined and rustic, with a pronounced earthy character from the diversity of the Walla Walla soils, creating a red fruit, crushed stone and dried herb filled wine.
Also from Walla Walla, Spring Valley Vineyards highlights sweet cassis, toasted oak, earthy mineral, and black pepper in their Katherine Corkrum Cabernet Franc, named after the matriarch of the family. ($50, via their website.)