I love a good Cabernet Franc — that’s just a fact. And I’ve been so happy to see it grow as a common varietal within the last few years. Read a few of my Cab Franc highlights. When done well, there’s an aged elegance to it — even in its younger years. I love the innate pepperiness of the variety; the touchable, suede-like tannins in the wine varietal; and I love that mouthful — because it is a mouthful — of fruit, earth, and spice all combine into a celebration of this foundational grape.
Yorkville Cellars may seem a bit of a secret. Indeed, the Yorkville Highlands AVA itself is a bit of a hidden gem, found squeezed between Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley AVA and Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley AVA. Only one percent of Yorkville’s 40,000 acres is planted to vines, but amongst that one percent are 21 different grape varieties. Yorkville Cellars is one of the 25 wineries found in this mountainous region and the only one growing all eight main Bordeaux grapes and producing them as varietal wine. Who likes Cab Franc?
Winemaker Dave Collins was probably the perfect guy to bring on board the Big Cork Vineyards team back in 2011 when the winery was first planting its grapes. He’d already been in the business for over 30 years, with his latest gig just across the Potomac River in Virginia — just 10 miles from the current Big Cork Vineyards estates. So not only did he come with winemaking experience, he was familiar with the terroir and what grapes would grow well and where. Obviously the pursuit was successful, today the winery boasts over 35 acres planted to vines with about 21 different grape varietals.
When asked which grape was his favorite, Collins says, “That’s like asking me to tell you which of my kids is my favorite! […] Each one is important for its own accomplishments and personality, but it’s how they work as a team that is my favorite thing!”
Well, personally, I love a good Cab Franc. While they’re becoming more main stream, a single-varietal bottle is still a bit of a challenge to find. So I was most excited when the Big Cork Vineyards 2015 Cabernet Franc arrived in my Big Cork delivery.
Aberration: A departure from what is normal or expected…
Usually one for Rhône varietals, it certainly is a “departure from what is normal” to see a Cabernet Franc from Larry of Tercero Wines. But, as is his nature, if something is interesting to him, he’ll experiment with it, not letting a “reputation” or a “theme” hold him back.
“This is my first year with Cab Franc,” says Larry, “a variety that I’ve been intrigued with for quite some time, especially those coming out of Chinon.” Chinon, is another “unexpected” when it comes to influencing New World wines. It’s a small town just outside of the Loire valley whose red-centric wines are marked by a gritty rusticity due to the mountainous terrain. And that’s just what Larry loved when he tasted those wines and what he’s re-created — California-style.
I came across Steele Wines during my last tour of Lake County Wine Country. A pleasant experience all around: great staff, a large tasting menu, and — of course — enjoyable wines. But the one that struck me the most — the bottle I came home with — was the 2014 Writer’s Block Cabernet Franc. Sourced from Shannon Ridge Vineyards in the High Valley area of Lake County, the wine shows the true expression of everything one knows and loves about the Cab Franc grape (assuming, you’re like me and love the grape). But what’s more is the story that goes along with it…