Today, I’d like to talk about Cabernet Franc.
It’s an Old World varietal, which means the primary production of it comes from France and Italy: the Old World of wines.
While France does produce most of it, Italy is a strong second, with the United States coming in relatively far down the list as third, and then so on.
I’ve had a couple of French makers, but my preference is actually an Italian producer called Tenuta Luisa. I will admit there could be a few reasons for this, and the first is the budget. When I’m buying wine with my money, I’m not going to splurge. Spending more than $20 for a bottle at my rate of consumption would mean I’d be spending several hundred each month on wine, which places the budget firmly under $20/bottle.
As you may have noticed, $20 isn’t going to get you the best wine France has to offer. There will be good, drinkable wine, sure; but you’re going to have to dig deep to find something that knocks it out of the park.
That rule of thumb for French wine does not necessarily stand for Italian wine, however.
Truth be told, I’m not generally a fan of Italian wines. They’re hard to pronounce, and I don’t entirely understand what I’m getting, so for me, there’s research required before I purchase, whereas other regions and varietals I find myself far more familiar and happy to enjoy.
I think this holds true for many people, and I wonder if this is why Italian wine everywhere is so underpriced, compared to other European imports. I don’t know; more research is required (who knows, I may even get to it!).
Either way, in my experience, dollar for Euro, Italian quality is more affordable than French, and such is the case with Cab Franc.
A few fast facts about Cab Franc is that it’s traditionally used as a blend in Bordeaux, and other red blends that feature Bordeaux. Also, if you’ve tried and enjoyed Cabernet Sauvignon, what you’re drinking is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. It’s also a distant grand-daddy of merlot. Basically, this grape really gets around. And for good reason.
It’s earthy, and spicy, but without the attack to the tongue that a merlot will give you. It’s not fruity, nor is it juicy, but dry and bold. It’s acidic in a way that leaves your tongue more refreshed than fatigued, and it positively begs for herbs to go with it. I enjoyed this with steak, very savory mashed potatoes, and a salad. By far, the most enjoyable tastes occurred with the potatoes which were loaded with fresh herbs, sour cream, and cheese; so while I’d say this went well with everything on my plate, I believe it paired best with the creamy, herby food.
The acid and tannins are well-balanced, and I would call this medium-bodied, though full of versatile flavor. The finish is medium, and actually slightly sweeter.
You may find the same.
I didn’t finish the bottle that night, and as I finish it now, I find that it is a good stand-alone wine (paired with nothing) as well.
If you decide to try this varietal, try it from a few regions to see what you like best. If you want to see what other people thought, give the Vivino app a try, and use it right at your wine retailer; however, if you have a good wine seller, you really should trust that they’re going to bring you something nice. I live in Utah, so there’s no such promise. However, I’ve liked all these producers, though I repeat that the Luisa was my favorite.
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