It seems as though just about every major wine grape variety has its day. Literally—the calendar is dotted with many such celebrations: National Chardonnay Day (the Thursday before Memorial Day), International Grenache Day (the third Friday in September), etc.
Few of them, however, have much of a reasoning for their date, however, usually, it seems, it is a bit of a random choice made by a fan of the variety. Such is not the case for Cabernet Franc, which is celebrated every year on December 4th. Why that day? It is the day that the original supporter of Cabernet Franc, the French Cardinal Richelieu (of Jouis XIV fame) died back in 1642.
This past Cab Franc Day, I was sent several bottles with which to celebrate.
2015 Arrowhead Springs Vineyards Estate Cabernet Franc Niagra Escarpment: Retail $25. A Cab Franc from the Niagra region of New York, this is fairly dark in the glass with a classic nose of red fruit, black pepper, and the slightest hint of red bell pepper. The palate is delightful: great fruit, balanced acidity, earth notes, and plenty of depth. This confirms to me that Cab Franc can perform quite well in the harsh East Coast environments. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
NV Black Willow Winery Cabernet Franc, New York State: Retail $10 (375ml), $20 (750ml). I scanned the bottle, I scoured the internet, I prayed, I meditated, but I could not come up with a vintage or blend for this wine made in Burt, New York, a short drive from Niagra Falls. I received two bottles, a 375 and a standard 750, but there was no indication as to the difference between the two. The smaller bottle was fairly light in color and had a smoky nose of black cherry and a touch of anise. The palate was pleasant, if a bit thin, with cherry cola and some depth on the palate. A pleasant quaff. 87. The larger bottle is virtually the same in color and but more closed in aroma—perhaps a bit darker berries. The palate exhibits the same characteristics as the smaller bottle, but a bit more muted initially. After some time open, I am fairly convinced it is the same wine. Good to Very Good. 86-88 Points.
2017 Leah Jørgensen Cellars Blanc de Cabernet Franc, Mae’s Vineyard, Applegate Valley, OR: Retail $30. Outside of sparkling wine production, it is rare to see a white wine made from red grapes, although I have seen a few whites made from Pinot Noir. To the best of my recollection, this is not only the first white Cab Franc that I have tried, it is the only one I have ever heard of. Pale straw, indistinguishable from any other white wine. Bright and cheery on the nose with white peach, citrus, and white acacia flower. The palate is quite tart and rather austere with Meyer lemon and a bit of white pepper on the finish. There is no doubt that this is an interesting wine and that it would pair well with a host of food options. For me? My Chicken with Mushrooms and Crème Fraiche recipe would be close to perfect. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2017 Leah Jørgensen Cellars Cabernet Franc, Southern Oregon: Retail $25. “Southern Oregon” sounds like a rather broad appellation, and it is. But. I visited the region a couple of years ago (although not this producer), and there are some exciting wines being made in the region (no, not all of the best Oregonian wines come from the Willamette, dammit). Particularly dark in the glass with blackberry, cassis, black pepper, and just a hint of bell pepper (which I think is a lovely characteristic of the variety). Beautiful. The palate is full and fruity with just the right amounts of spice and tartness thrown in. Really nice. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2015 Leah Jørgensen Cellars “Clos Rogue Valley” Cabernet Franc Reserve, Southern Oregon: Retail $50. The name, a nod to the cult-level wine, Clos Rougeard in Saumur-Champigny (Loire Valley), whose Cabernet Francs regularly fetch north of $100/bottle. While I have never tried any Clos Rougeard, I have travelled a bit in the Loire Valley and have made my way through my fair share of Cab Franc, and while this is far from an Old World style, it is quite tasty. Quite tasty. Dark red fruit dominate the nose, where the green pepper is notably missing (and while I like the bell pepper, it is not a necessary element). The palate is rich, fruit, complex, and delightful. Just short of a whoa. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2010 Paradise Rescued B1ock One Cabernet Franc, Bordeaux Supérieur: Retail $??? 100% Cabernet Franc. Even though Cabernet Franc is the third most widely planted red grape variety in Bordeaux (behind Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon), it is rare to find a wine from the region that has more than a splash of the variety in the wine. Virtually unheard of is a 100% Cab Franc coming from the prestigious appellation. Well, here is one. Only available in the U.S., and the only vintage of this wine that I could find on the inter webs, the nose is a bit funky—and I like the funk—with dark red fruit (blackberry, cassis). The palate is rich and fruity with noticeable acidity and a tart, lingering finish. I would perhaps suggest for you to buy this, but I have no idea how much it costs ($20? Buy. $50? Umm…) or where you can actually purchase it (the website directs you to a retail site that states the wine is out of stock). But, it is a tasty treat. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.