I Heart Cab Franc

Cab FrancWhen 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.

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?


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About Margot

Margot has been writing about wine since 1997 at KOIN-TV in Portland, Oregon; ten years later, she created this blog. Write for Wine focuses on the fine wines of Washington state, with additional posts about Oregon, B.C., California, ANZ, France, Italy, Spain and more. A former national journalist in Canada and the U.S., Margot has been a Washington wine enthusiast since moving to Seattle in 1999. Her motto: “It’s wine o’clock somewhere.”

4 thoughts on “I Heart Cab Franc

  1. We have some good Cab Franc’s here in Colorado. Balistreri Vineyards, Guy Drew Vineyards, Canyon Wind Cellars

  2. Thanks, Kim! I’ll keep my eye out for the Colorado Cab Francs. I’m not very familiar with Colorado wines, so I look forward to getting to know them.

  3. The 2006 Cab Franc from Agate Field in Zillah, WA is good as well. I’m the type the person who usually knows if I’m going to buy it the first time I taste it, but with that one, I had a hard time deciding between their Moon Rider series and their “regular” label. I actually re-tasted both when I was visiting there and it was the re-taste that sold me on the “regular” Cab Franc.

  4. Thanks for the tip, Alina. I’ve been traveling, so it took longer than usual for your comment to post, and I thank you for your patience. I’m heading to the Zillah area this week, so I will try to add Agate Field to the itinerary. Appreciate your tip! I finally tasted Fielding Hills Cab Franc on the weekend, and it was amazing.

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