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Category Archives: Cabernet Franc

Warm Reds for Cold Nights, Part 3

Well, we’ll admit that as we write this, it’s sunny and 72 degrees at our home in Northern California. Spring is definitely upon us here. However, other parts of the country as still in the harsh grip of winter. Besides, it was a couple of weeks ago when we opened and enjoyed this sample; on a cold, rainy, winter’s night. Plus, readers in the Southern Hemisphere are headed into winter, and will be needing some Warm Reds for their Cold Nights, soon.

For the third in our four part series of Warm Reds for Cold Nights, we travel to France. When most people think of big red wines from France, they think Bordeaux, Burgundy, or the Rhone. Yet in our ongoing quest for the lesser-known, our travels today take us to the Loire Valley, specifically to the communes that make up the region of Chinon.

The red wines of Chinon are crafted from Cabernet Franc grapes. Many of you may know Cabernet Franc as one of the two parents of Cabernet Sauvignon. (The other half of the greatest marriage in viticulture is Sauvignon Blanc.) Used as a blending grape in Bordeaux and other regions, Cabernet Franc stands, and shines, on its own in Chinon wines.

The following wine was provided as a media sample for review. All reviews, descriptions, and opinions are our own. We received no additional compensation.

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Chateau Courday-Montpensier dates back to 1090 AD, though the current castle on the site was built in the 14th century. There are 30 hectares of vineyards at the chateau, all planted to Cabernet Franc. The Chateau du Courday-Montpensier Chinon Rouge 2016 is 100% Cabernet Franc, that spent between 6 and 12 months in barrel before bottling. It is a classic representation of Chinon, quite delicious and food friendly.

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Rather than going with a more traditional food pairing with this Cabernet Franc, we opted for more of a Franco-Asian fusion menu: homemade Thai Basil Beef. The pairing was exceptional, with the exotic, savory beef complementing the rich, hearty wine, and vice-versa.

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Inky purple color. Aromas of ripe blackberry, raspberry, and black cherry. On the palate, fruit forward with blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, and cherry, with secondary notes of licorice, black pepper, and vanilla. Tannins are big and chewy, but melt away with food. Brisk acidity livens the senses and further enhances the food pairing. Excellent this winter’s evening with Thai Basil Beef. Definitely warming and satisfying. Wine Searcher average price: $16.00.

Even if spring has sprung in your neighborhood, don’t overlook the opportunity to enjoy a big, warming red wine with your BBQ or other hearty meal. Until next time…

Cheers!

  • By Kent Reynolds and Robyn Raphael
  • Photo credit: Robyn Raphael

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Review: Dracaena Wines Cabernet Franc 2015 and RANGE Kitchen & Tap

When you live in suburbia, surrounded by big-box chain eateries, you get rather excited when a quality, independent restaurant opens up. And you do all you can to support them, hoping to ensure their success and longevity. So it was a couple of weeks ago, when bored with all the same old, same old places for a Friday evening happy hour, that I checked Yelp (love it or hate it, it still serves a purpose) and spotted a “Hot and New” listing for RANGE Kitchen & Tap.

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We headed there directly, excited about the prospect of a new place that might suit our needs. We were not disappointed. Our first time in, we really only wanted a glass of wine and some small plates. When we scanned the menu, and saw the plethora of delicious-sounding salads and entrees, we decided to go all in. We were sitting at the bar, which overlooks the prep-kitchen, so we could see everything coming out of the back, and we were amazed at what we saw. We also got to talk with the prep cooks, and Chef Kevin for a few minutes when he emerged from the main kitchen. We learned that RANGE Kitchen & Tap specializes in farm fresh, local ingredients, prepared on site, to create comfort food with a twist. Everything is made there, from fresh ground beef all the way down to the homemade salad dressings and even mayonnaise. That night we split a Ceasar salad (homemade dressing, yum!) and Mom’s Meatloaf. Sliced, then seared on the flat-top for a crispy crust, it was amazing!

Determined to share the wealth, we invited friends Jason and Heather Thomson, to join us for the full meal deal. And although RANGE Kitchen & Tap has put together a very impressive wine list, we decided to bring our own, and open a bottle we’ve been holding onto for a while: Dracaena Wines Cabernet Franc 2015, made by friends and fellow wine bloggers, Mike and Lori Budd.

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If you haven’t tried bringing your own wine to a restaurant, give it a go. Just make sure it’s not something that’s already on their wine list. Most places charge a nominal corkage fee (the charge for the server/somm/owner to pull the cork) although some restaurants don’t charge for corkage at all. I’ve often wondered, and have yet to get a straight answer, but with the increasing popularity of screwcap wines, when you bring your own wine closed by screwcap, do they charge you a “screwage fee”? Anyway, not only does BYOW save money, but it’s a great way to share a special bottle with friends.

But I digress…we met Jason and Heather and set about perusing the menu. We decided to start with the Charcuterie Board. The meat selection changes frequently, and each day the offerings are listed on a chalkboard near the kitchen. Tonight’s board was delicious, though I can’t remember all of the meats that our server described.

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Onto the mains, where were delighted with the selections. The catch of the day, which Robyn ordered, was fresh halibut over asparagus and peas. Heather got the fried chicken over garlic mashed potatoes, Jason The Range pizza, featuring daily market fresh ingredients, and I ordered The Shorty flatbread, made with short rib meat that had been cooked sous vide for 36 hours. As you can see, the food looked amazing, and I can assure you it tasted even better! But how would this wide variety of foods stand up to our big, bold red wine?

 

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The Dracaena Wines Cabernet Franc 2015 paired magnificently with each and every dish. A well-crafted and food friendly wine, Dracaena is definitely a crowd pleaser. Bold enough to stand up to short ribs or steak, yet restrained and elegant so it complements lighter dishes like grilled halibut just as well.

 

Mike and Lori Budd have a passion for Cabernet Franc. So much so, that they were the driving force behind the annual Cabernet Franc Day, celebrated on December 4th each year. As one would expect, when someone has a passion, their product is going to be sensational. Dracaena Wines Cabernet Franc 2015 definitely is that. Here’s my review:

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A truly spectacular gem! Deep, inky purple color. Aromas of ripe blackberry, black cherry, and vanilla. On the palate, there are big, both flavors of blackberry pie, black currant, and chocolate covered cherries, mingled with soft oak and vanilla notes. With a rich, full mouthfeel, velvety smooth tannins, balanced acidity, and a long, juicy finish of black fruit and spice, this is an exquisite wine that pairs well with a wide range of foods, from grilled halibut to a thick steak.

You really should give Dracaena Wines Cabernet Franc 2015 a try. It’s available direct from the winery on their website. You won’t be disappointed.

Oh, I almost left out dessert. Silly me. We love crème brûlée. Do you know what’s better than crème brûlée? Espresso crème brûlée! Oh, yes! This stuff is rich, decadent, and delicious. We’d come back in just for dessert!

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If you happen to be in the Sacramento area, I encourage you to make the trek out to the ‘burbs of Roseville and check out RANGE Kitchen & Tap. But before you do, make sure you order a bottle or three of Dracaena Wines Cabernet Franc, and bring it with you.

Cheers!

  • Content and photos by Kent Reynolds and Robyn Raphael

Review: Ehlers Estate Cabernet Franc 2013

Last Sunday, December 4, 2016, was the second annual Cabernet Franc day. There are celebratory days for several popular wine grape varietals throughout the year. However, the regal Cabernet Franc grape had been overlooked until 2015. Enter Lori Budd. She and her husband, Michael, are the proprietors of Dracaena Wines in Paso Robles, California. Much more than a winery owner, though, Lori is a champion of Cabernet Franc. To bring attention to this oft overlooked grape, she established December 4th of each year as Cabernet Franc day. You can read Lori’s story about the creation of Cabernet Franc day here.

Cabernet Franc is a grape many wine drinkers have never heard of. Of those who are aware of it, many know it only as a blending grape used in red Bordeaux wines. Surprisingly few people have experienced Cabernet Franc as a stand-alone wine. That is a shame, and Lori is doing all she can to remedy that problem.

While anybody who has taken even a passing notice of wine is familiar with the King of Grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon, many do not know that Cabernet Sauvignon is a naturally-occuring hybrid. DNA testing in the 1990s revealed it is a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.

So what happens on Cabernet Franc day? A lot! Social Media is inundated with hashtags like #cabfrancday, #cabfranclove, and #lovecabfranc. In the wine blogger community, blog posts about Cabernet Franc abound. The day culminates with a Tweet-up on Twitter, with the hashtag #cabfrancday. I participated in the Tweet-up – my first one ever – and it was a lot of fun, and very informative! I had no idea there were so many producers making stand-alone Cabernet Franc, in so many styles.

I’ve had a few Cab Francs before, but haven’t really explored the grape in depth. All the wines I’ve had have been excellent; medium bodied with black fruit, tobacco, and spice, with the classic bell pepper on the finish. It is a very food friendly wine, and pairs well with basically anything you would serve with Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.

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Cab Franc Loves Beef Tips and Mushrooms!

To celebrate Cabernet Franc day, I had the good fortune to receive a bottle of Ehlers Estate Cabernet Franc 2013, from Beth, the Traveling Wine Chick. The Ehlers Estate Cabernet Franc will blow your mind! It is crafted from 100% Cabernet Franc aged in 100% French Oak, and is rich, deep, and full bodied.

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Look at That Color!

From the Ehlers Estate website:

A beautiful, 100% Cabernet Franc with great structure, firm, mature tannins, and compelling flavors. Black and red berries, black cherry, toasted coconut, browned butter, and slight vanilla, this wine is pure Franc from a stellar terroir. Mouth-filling and built to last, with a long chewy finish, this is a perfect change-up to your best Cabernet Sauvignons. Off the charts.

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Here’s what I thought:

A delicious way to enjoy #CabFrancDay! Deep purple with a ruby rim. Aromas of ripe raspberry and soft cedar and pencil shavings. As the wine opens up, I got a whiff of bell pepper, too. On the palate, this is a juicy, balanced delight. Ripe raspberry, blackberry, cedar, and spice. Tannins are soft and smooth, with vibrant acidity that makes my mouth happy! The finish is long and satisfying, with black and red fruit. Outstanding!

5 out of 5 stars (95+ points)

Retail: $60

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With such famous lineage it is surprising that Cabernet Franc is so often overlooked and forgotten. If you haven’t tried this grape on its own, please go to your favorite wine shop now and buy some. Then join us every December 4th for the annual #cabfrancday festivities!

Cheers!