Cabernet Franc Goes Solo
By Gina Trippi
Cabernet Franc, a medium-bodied red wine born in France, is loved for its savory, bell pepper-like flavors, medium-high acidity and unforgettable taste.
It is an ideal food pairing wine. While single-varietal Cabernet Franc wines are now being exported by a number of countries, the varietal maintains its status, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Carmenere, and Petit Verdot, as one of the grapes allowed in wines labeled Bordeaux.
In Napa Valley, wines labeled as Cabernet Sauvignon often include a bit of Cabernet Franc.
In Chile and Argentina, Cabernet Franc is increasingly important, and it’s also found in Australia, South Africa, Canada, Virginia, and Italy, where it is included in one of the great Super Tuscans blends.
With its ability to play well with others, Cabernet Franc is far more widespread in planting and production than most people know.
As with all grape varietals, winemaking techniques together with the serving temperature impact the taste of Cabernet Franc in the glass. A Cabernet Franc with a little chill on it highlights the herbal and bell pepper notes of the grape, whereas a room temperature glass allows the brambly berries, wild strawberries, and plums to take center stage.
Generally speaking, Cabernet Franc offers aromas and flavors of bell peppers, spice, and earthy herbs with the occasional hints of minerality and tobacco. And if the wine has been aged in new oak, sweet spices and wisps of chocolate may come forward.
At the table, Cabernet Franc food pairing is easy. Its brambly berry, wild strawberry, and occasionally plum-like fruit makes it a natural complement to richer sauces, and its underlying touch of spice works brilliantly alongside dry rubs and complex spice blends.
Cabernet Franc paired with sweet-spicy smoked meats is a home run. But Cabernet Franc is not limited to pairing with meat, it also works well with vegetables, particularly when grilled.
Cabernet Franc with vegetarian bean chili, for example, is excellent! With this dish and any other, however, gauge the heat. Too much spicy heat will clash. Keep the sizzle on low.
We offer Armand David Saumur Rouge “Siebrit” brought in by local Asheville importer, JP Bourgeois. A very charming traditional Cabernet Franc, lighter in body, the “Siebrit” presents fresh in the glass with notes of black cherries, blackcurrant jam and raspberries, followed by tobacco, black pepper and a touch of dark chocolate.
The Armand David vineyard has seen 4 generations in one of the best wine-growing regions of France, Saumur. The entire family still works the harvest together!
If you prefer a heavier style, try wines from Chinon. Our Vieilles Vignes by Patrick Lambert is from 55-year-old vines grown in sandy clay soils over limestone. Hand harvested and fermented with wild yeasts with 12 months of aging in old barrels.
A deep red/black color, with aromas of strawberry, pepper, earth and citrus and a palate presenting earthy blackberry and strawberry with bitter chocolate, this is a complex, old-fashioned Chinon.
Spice pairing up with Cabernet Franc!
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