My Enjoyment of Speaking Frankly About Cabernet Franc

Michelle and Michaela speaking at the seminar

My last event at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival was “Speaking Frankly About Franc“. I was eagerly waiting for this seminar as I really enjoy drinking Cabernet Franc. A grape that is at home in Bordeaux and in the Loire Valley. It is used as a blending grape in Bordeaux, as a minor partner to Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. In the Loire you can get beautifully nuanced Cabernet Franc on it’s own. Michelle Bouffard and Michaela Morris from House Wine lead this seminar. They had Cab Franc from the Loire Valley, Washington, California, Italy, Argentina, Chile, and France internationally, and from BC and Ontario locally.

About Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc likes to grow in a cooler climate. It is characterized with a lighter colour, compared to Cabernet Sauvignon, lower tannins, and has some cedar and herbacous aromas. It is an earlier maturing grape, which makes it very useful as a blending grape in Bordeaux, for cooler vintages, when the later ripening Cabernet Sauvignon may not be fully ripe. This lighter bodied, lower tannin, wine though means that it does not age as long as it’s sibling grape, Cabernet Sauvignon.  Read along and discover the wines from this seminar with me.

Cabernet Franc Wines at the Seminar

  • Tinhorn Creek Vineyards, Oldfield Series Rose 2010, Okanagan Valley, BC.
  • Theirry Germain, Samur-Champigny AOC 2010, Loire Valley, France.
  • Chateau Dubourg, St. Emilion 2009, Bordeaux, France.
  • Tenuta Argentiera, Villa Donoratico Bolgheri DOC 2009, Bolgheri, Italy.
  • Tawse Winery “Laundry Vineyard” Cabernet Franc 2009, Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara, Ontario.
  • Sandhill Cabernet Franc 2009, Okanagan Valley, BC.
  • Osoyoos Larose Cabernet Franc component (barrel sample) 2011, Okanagan Valley, BC.
  • Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin (tank sample) 2010, Okanagan Valley, BC.
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle, Cold Creek Cabernet Franc 2009, Columbia Valley, Washington State.
  • Bodega Catena Zapata, Cabernet Franc “Appellation El Cepillo” 2009, Mendoza, Argentina.
  • Vina Morande, Limited Edition Cabernet Franc 2008, Maipo Valley, Chile.
  • Santa Rita, “Triple C” 2006, Maipo Valley, Chile.
  • Trefethen Family Vineyard, Cabernet Franc 2008, Napa Valley, California.

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards, Oldfield Series Rose 2010, Okanagan Valley, BC. Beside being a blending grape, or making a great wine on it’s own, you can also make a wonderful rose wine with Cabernet Franc, as Sandra Oldfield demonstrated with her wine to us. The grapes come from the Black Sage Bench in the Okanagan and only 200 cases of this wine are produced each year. The new vintage is coming out in 1 month, so if you like rose, snap it up before it sells out again. This wine was light coloured with a light red fruit nose. High acid and light body. Off dry with citrus, apple and red cherry flavours. I really enjoyed this wine.

Thierry Germain Saumur Champigny and Chateau Dubourg wines

Theirry Germain, Samur-Champigny AOC 2010, Loire Valley, France. Another wine I really liked. This was was deep ruby in the glass with some stemminess ad flowers on the nose. Medium body with higher acid. Dry with ripe cherries and capsicum flavours. Quite aromatic.

Chateau Dubourg, St. Emilion 2009, Bordeaux, France. We now move to the Right Bank of Bordeaux, which is a primary Merlot-based wine (80% in this case), with 20% Cabernet Franc. Deep garnet with plums, dark fruit and some tarriness aromas. Medium body, soft and round in the mouth. Lower tannins with dark fruit and cherry flavours.

Tenuta Argentiera, Villa Donoratico Bolgheri DOC 2009, Bolgheri, Italy. Cabernet Franc in Italy? Yes. Again primarily as a blending grape. This wine is Cabernet Sauvignon based, with 25% Cabernet Franc and 10% Merlot. Not typical for a wine from Tuscany. It was opaque garnet in colour. Oak, dark fruit and vanilla on the nose. Higher acid, dry with soft tannins. Some flowers on the palate.

Tawse Winery “Laundry Vineyard” Cabernet Franc 2009, Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara, Ontario. It is nice to see more Ontario wines making it out to BC. This wine was medium garnet in colour. Capsicum, cedar, vanilla, oak and perfume aromas. Medium body, soft. More perfume on the palate along with cedar and red fruits. Dry with low tannins.

Sandhill Cabernet Franc 2009, Okanagan Valley, BC. This is an excellent wine, at an excellent price ($19.99 in BC). This wine had a very nice nose, with cedar, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla aromas. Medium body and dry on the palate. Flavours of cloves and cherries.

Osoyoos Larose Cabernet Franc and Le Grand Vin 2010

Osoyoos Larose Cabernet Franc component (barrel sample) 2011, Okanagan Valley, BC. Osoyoos Larose does not produce a single varietal wine. They are about the blend, a Bordeaux blend, so it was fantastic to be able to try one component of their Le Grand Vin wine. Opaque purple in colour. Purple fruit and cedar nose. Full body. Big tannins. Violets and cherry flavours.

Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin (tank sample) 2010, Okanagan Valley, BC. Cabernet Franc makes 10% of this blend. It is opaque garent in colour. Violets, vanilla and dark fruit aromas. Soft, full body with some bitterness, and cherries on the mid-palate. Very young yet, not yet bottled, but lots of potential for the future.

Chateau Ste. Michelle, Cold Creek Cabernet Franc 2009, Columbia Valley, Washington State. Although Chateau Ste. Michelle is a large winery, their Cabernet Franc production is quite small; a mere 600 cases for thi wine. Opaque garnet in the glass. Cloves, vanilla and dark fruit nose. Fully body, really round mouthfeel. Cloves and dark fruit flavours. Long length. Very nice.

Bodega Catena Zapata, Cabernet Franc “Appellation El Cepillo” 2009, Mendoza, Argentina. Mendoza is primarily thought for big Malbec wines, but Bodega Catena Zapata is always exploring and has tried Cabernet Franc here. Opaque ruby in colour. Some cedar, vanilla and dark fruit aromas.Medium body, round with soft tannins. Dark fruit, black pepper, cedar and flowery flavours. Medium length.

Vina Morande, Limited Edition Cabernet Franc 2008, Maipo Valley, Chile. Deep garnet colour, with dark fruit, cedar and vanilla nose. Very tasty with riple purple and dark fruit flavours. Medium body with tannins showing up in the mid palate. Dry with a tannic finish.

Santa Rita Triple C and Trefethen Cabernet Franc wines

Santa Rita, “Triple C” 2006, Maipo Valley, Chile. Santa Rita is one of my favorite wineries in Chile. They make nice wines at all price points. The Triple C is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Carmenere. Great nose with capsicum, vanilla and dark fruit aromas. Full body and round mouthfeel. Very fruity, purple fruits, along with some capsicum. Medium tannins with a long length.

Trefethen Family Vineyard, Cabernet Franc 2008, Napa Valley, California. Our last wine from the tasting was from Napa Valley, usually thought of more for their Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine was very aromatic. Sweet spices, vanilla and red fruit aromas. Soft, round, with juicy fruit flavours. Medium body.

For a lighter coloured and lighter bodied grape, I used opaque to describe many of these wines, and full body. So as you can see the Cabernet Franc grape can be light and delicate, and as well can be fairly muscular. It depends I think on the terroir and the wine maker’s vinification. I hope the descriptions of these wines will entice you to venture out and buy a Cabernet Franc if you have not tried it on it’s own before. Enjoy!

Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Some people prefer red wines. Some only like Cabernet Sauvignon. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I met many great wine makers. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.