When you think of Cabernet Franc, it’s probably in the context of a blending wine that adds more complexity to the robust Cabernet Sauvignon, or adds more structure to the softer Merlot. When combined with both Cab Sauv and Merlot, Cab Franc rounds out the trio in Meritage blends. Indeed, Cab Franc is one of the main varieties in Bordeaux-style blends.
In Washington state, like in France’s Loire Valley, wineries are also creating Cab Franc as a purebred — in other words, the dominant variety, or a stand-alone wine. And I, for one, am delighted, because I heart Cab Franc.
Cab Franc is known for its complex aromas of cherry and berry, with notes of herbs, spices, chocolate, cedar, and even violets. Frequently wine enthusiasts describe the nose as a peppery perfume.
The hot climate in Walla Walla and Yakima Valley is perfectly suited to ripen the Cab Franc fruit. Wineries in Lake Chelan have also produced some fine vintages.
Here are some of the Washington state wineries that, in my opinion, produce the Cab Franc grape as a shining single-varietal wine.
- Gilbert Cellars 2007 Cabernet Franc
- Fidelitas Wines 2007 Red Mountain Cab Franc
- Walla Walla Vintners 2008 Columbia Valley Cab Franc
- Watermill Winery 2007 Estate Cab Franc
- Corliss Estates 2004 Cab Franc
- Barrage Cellars 2007 Outcast
- Northwest Totem Cellars 2006 Cab Franc
- Hard Row to Hoe 2007 Cab Franc
- Vin du Lac 2007 Barrel Select Cab Franc
- DiStefano Winery 2005 Sogno
- Page Cellars: 2007 Red Zepplin Cab Franc
In our cellar, we still have a bottle of one of my all-time favorites, Matthews Estate 2003 Conner Lee Cab Franc, which received 96 points from the Wine Advocate.
Meanwhile, I’ve read about, but not tasted, the award-winning 2007 Fielding Hills Cab Franc, the 2007 Red Sky Cab Franc, and 2007 Dusted Valley Cab Franc — I hope to enjoy some of them within the next year.
I also tip my glass to Goosecross Cellars for its 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Franc.
And I tip my glass to LeAnn Moore for the photo of Cab Franc growing at Hedge’s Family Estate Vineyard. Thanks, LeAnn!
What Cab Francs do you think we should taste?