I love how a wine changes — from place to place, from vintner to vintner, over time, and even over a conversation.
I totally get how subjective wine is: what did you have to eat pr drink– what’s the chemistry in your mouth like? What smells are about and how might that impact your experience of a wine? What music are you listening to — how distracted or focused are you — what’s your brain chemistry like? There are so many factors that can change your experience about a wine.
For me, personally, my chemistry and Cabernet Franc don’t always get along so in general I’d rather just see it as part of a blend– a small part. And that’s how it’s been found traditionally — as a small but significant role in a Bordeaux blend. However, it’s dominant in a Chinon from the Touraine region of the Loire Valley about 220 miles southwest of Paris.
While I’m just not a fan of the phenolics that bring out those vegetal flavors, the bell pepper. because me and bell pepper and jalapeño peppers and green chile peppers, just don’t really get along, (you really don’t want the details), Sue, on the other hand, loves Cabernet franc and she loves those green chile and bell pepper flavors.
Believe it or not, these phenolics, while are always present to an extent in Cabernet Franc and are a defining characteristic, can be more enhanced or reduced depending on vineyard and winery practices as well as the location of the vineyard. Further, what foods you pair with it can also create a friendly or fighting environment.
This March, Cabernet Franc is the theme for the Wine Pairing Weekend Crew hosted by Wendy Klik
Four Cabernet Franc Wines
- 2017 South Mountain Winery (fruit from Paso Robles)
- 2016 Chateau Yvonne “La Folie” (biodynamic fruit from Loire)
- 2014 Lang and Reed (CA North coast fruit)
- 2013 Topanga Canyon Stillpoint Vineyard (I think this is in the Malibu AVA)
As March is Women’s History Month, Sue and I wanted to feature Cabernet Franc by women which led us first to a 2017 using fruit from Paso Robles made by Gretal Mays Compton at South Mountain Winery in Ventura County; Gretel and Bruce own and operate South Moutain Winery and Clos des Amis which uses Ventura County fruit, most of which the duo has planted.
Next we stopped by the Wine House LA to see what they might have to offer in the way of biodynamic wines from the Loire made by a woman, and we came away with biodynamic 2016 Chateau Yvonne “La Folie” made by a husband and wife team. Based on our interest and enthusiasm for this wine, Wine House LA staff showed us a second biodynamic wine by a husband and wife team, 2014 Lang and Reed using fruit from California’s north coast. Finally, when we were tasting La Maliosa with Sheila Donohue, she shared with us a 2013 from Topanga Canyon’s Stillpoint Vineyard which burned down in the Woolsey fire of November 2018.
That’s how our theme evolved to Cabernet Franc created by couples! (And for another story of a biodynamic wine creating couple, read about this sparkling wine from the Loire).
For our menu, in Sue’s research, she found lamb and pork to be common, so I bought lamb shoulder chops and found a recipe for a lamb stew made in the instant pot which Marsh prepared. Sue roasted a pumpkin she grew and made a savory pumpkin potato soup, plus I found on a Loire site a recipe for cherry tomatoes dipped in a balsamic reduction then rolled in sesame seeds, and since we lacked skewers, Sue came up with the idea to put them on rosemary which was beautiful and delicious! We took the leftover tomatoes from our appetizers and added them to a green salad topped with salad seeds with red pepper flakes from Trader Joe’s.
- Cherry tomatoes on rosemary skewers
- Green salad
- Roasted pumpkin soup
- Lamb Bean and Kale Stew with Mashed Potatoes
2017 South Mountain Winery, Cira Vineyard, Paso Robles SRP $25
This year, I am “interning” at Clos des Amis’s solar powered Winery in Santa Paula under the tutelage of winemaker and viticulturalist Bruce Freeman and his partner Gretel Mays Compton. By interning, I mean I show up at the winery as often as possible with my dog in tow and I ask to be put to work. So far, that’s been pruning , which I LOVE, but now that that is done, there’s plenty of other work to do getting the vineyards ready for growing season and getting wines in barrels ready for bottling.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned that for Wine Pairing Weekend we’d be doing Cabernet Franc, which I didn’t think they were growing or making. Turns out I was wrong: Gretel had made one barrel of wine from fruit she’d sourced, and which had recently been bottled under their South Mountain Winery label which is what they use for their non-Ventura County sourced fruit. Fortunately for me, she offered a bottle for us to taste and pair for the prompt. I was able to taste it prior to the event when a few weeks later, during lunch after pruning, Bruce opened a bottle of it to have with our sandwiches from Roan Mills Bakery in Fillmore and to see how it was developing.
Generally, Gretel takes care of the label design and other graphic arts as that’s the field she worked in for 30 years while Bruce takes the lead on the viticulture and winemaking. But Gretel has her own projects as well including albarino vines that she wants to make into wine and so has planted, and she planted the Cabernet Sauvignon in Fillmore. Gretel told me that she was in charge of all of the wine making decisions from when to pick to get the acidity she wanted and everything else.
Color: Pretty ruby sapphire, not particularly dense.
Nose: As it opens, baking spices, violets, cherry, chaparral, bell pepper.
Palate: Plentiful tart red fruit with cherry dominating. Some mild green notes. This is about as far from a more typical high alcohol Paso Robles fruit bomb as you can get — lots of acidity but also well balanced with fruit and structure.
Pairing: This wine is just a baby, barely out of the barrel and in the bottle, but still very enjoyable and accessible whether with a prosciutto sandwich which brought out bright cherry fruit or with a more complex meal like the lamb and bean stew which brought out more complex flavors in the wine. The fatty lamb tames the youthfulness of the wine and brings a richness and roundness to the palate. The experience of the wine on its own and with the lamb was actually shocking because the experience of the wine is so radically different.
2016 – Chateau Yvonne “La Folie” – Cabernet Franc – 12.5% alcohol – $25
From the Coeur Wine Company website, I learned that winery that is today called Chateau Yvonne has a long and rich heritage. The Chateau has been “surrounded by vineyards since the middle ages, when the monks at the Abbaye de Fontevraud brought their influence to the region. The Chateau dates to the 16th century, but not much is known until 1813, when a local winemaker moved in and began producing wine on site. In 1997, Yvonne and Jean-François Lamunière decided to recreate the abandoned vineyard with the help of Françoise Foucault” which they farmed organically.
Color: Rich red on the maroon side, fuchsia or rose color rim
Nose: Minerals, mint sage, cherry, brined olives.
Palate: Smooth minerals brush across your tongue, nice velvety tannins, super bright tart cherry fruit possibly into the pomegranate, and cranberry families, tart red fruit if you don’t care to split hairs.
Pairing: This wine would be great with a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato bisque soup. We both felt that this would be a friend to any tomato based cuisine. Great with the strong sharp cheeses, fine with the creamy gorgonzola, but really liked the aged gouda and menage. Fantastic with our rosemary tomato skewers. The subtle rosemary flavor with the sweetness of the tomato really set this wine over the top. Sue loved the salad with this wine, she loved the soup with this wine, and last but not least, absolutely fabulous with the broth in the lamb stew. The rosemary in the stew brought out some rosemary characteristics in the wine.
An easy-going favorite that’s fascinating with food.
Whenever we serve rich stewed meats with Cab Franc, we are always so pleased and amazed.
2014 – Lang and Reed – Cabernet Franc – 13.5% alcohol – $25
California North Coast 2014
Color: Red with a lovely pinkish mauve rim
Nose: Green olives, peppercorns, and cherry; the cherry fruit is the underlayer to the spice and the brine. Baking spice is really prevalent with a stemless Cab Franc glass.
Palate: Minerals and fruit with bright velvety, grippy tannins, that reminded me of the texture of a cat’s tongue, light vegetal notes.
Pairing: Neither one of us really wanted this as a cocktail wine, but you start bringing on the cheeses and it is a wonderful mate. It loves strong sharp cheeses: aged gouda, creamy gorgonzola, menage. For this wine, we would have liked to slightly roast the tomatoes, but we both agreed the wine LOVED the rosemary flavors from the skewers; such a pleasant surprise. I loved this wine with the pumpkin soup. Food loves this wine, this wine loves foods, rich earthen foods, bold flavors, the pumpkin soup softened the tannins in the wine, and added a richness to the soup. Fantastic with our lamb bean stew. We had a discussion as to whether it needed to have tomatoes in the recipe or not. Sue decided no way. It loved the earthy meaty broth and the rosemary components in the stew. Cab franc loves braised stew recipes.
2013 – Topanga Stillpoint Vineyard – California – Cabernet Franc – 14.2% alcohol – SRP
Sadly, the vineyards for this wine burned down in the Woolsey fire in November 2018 and do not exist anymore; there are currently no plans to replant.
Husband and wife winemaking team of Sandy Garber and Ralph Meyer created the vineyards under the tutelage guidance of famous Biodynamic viticulturist Alan York. Lots of care went into growing these grapes which were thinned to produce the best fruit, hand-picked, and bottled meticulously. They are selling their inventory and there are very few left; get them if you can, because once they are gone, there will won’t be any more.
Color: Refracts light and bounces off the surface of the wine.
Nose: Highly perfumed with violets, iris, bramble fruit.
Palate: Violets and earth, herbal notes of mint or sage, not much of the typical vegetal bell pepper, plentiful wonderful black fruit, blackberry or wild blackberry, fresh berries over cooked berries. Clean bright minerality as it rolls across the tongue, lots of rich tannins, earth and fruit. There is a bit of chalk that adds to a nice textural feeling.
Many California wines do not have enough structure to them, however this has a nicely balanced structure. It has nice acidity and feels like it is alive. It is really too bad that this vineyard was taken by the flames and exists no longer.
Thank you for stopping by to learn about Cabernet Franc Wine. Please join us for twitter chat following #WinePW on Saturday, March 9, at 11 AM ET.
- 2 oz Pours: 5 Cali Cab Francs by Nicole of Somm’s Table
- At the Brasserie: Domaine de la Noblaie Pierre de Tuf 2014 with Chanterelle Mushroom & Herb Omelet by Cindy of Grape Experiences
- Lamb Stew Paired with Cabernet Franc Created by Couples from Gwendolyn of Wine Predator
- Cabernet Franc Food Pairings by Steven of Wine and Food Pairings
- Cabernet Franc Rosé Paired with Pasta e Piselli by Linda of My Full Wine Glass
- Cabernet Franc: A Vegetarian’s Best Friend by Lori of Dracaena Wines
- California Cab Franc with a Homey Casual Meal by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Chicken + Loire Valley Cabernet Franc — A Devilishly Delicious Pairing by Nancy of Pull That Cork
- Experimenting Chilean Perez Cruz Cabernet Franc with Five (Sweet, Sour, Bitter, Salty and Umami) Tasty Meat by Pinny of Chinese Food and Wine Pairings
- Ironstone 2016 Cabernet Franc: Comparing the Reserve and the Not Reserve by Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Leah Jørgensen’s Blanc de Cabernet Franc Paired with Red Lentil Soup by Lauren of The Swirling Dervish
- Portobello Mushroom Chicken Braise with Dracaena Reserve Cabernet Franc by David of Cooking Chat
- Made in China Sparkling Cabernet Franc Pairs Great with Weeknight Dinner by Traveling Wine Profs.
Next month’s WinePW will be hosted by me, and we’ll be exploring Biodynamic Wines of the World. Here’s the invitation post