Is Cab Franc ready for the Spotlight?

by | Mar 8, 2023

Cab Franc is a versatile grape. In blends, it adds complexity and aroma to the finished result. Since it ripens earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s an “insurance policy” and will contribute more to the blend if the Cabernet Sauvignon crop does not fully ripen and results in lower yields.

Because it is a thin-skinned grape with larger berries compared to Cabernet Sauvignon, the tannins tend to be naturally soft, making it an excellent wine on its own. In general, Cab Franc is a very approachable wine.

In the 2023 Annual print issue of Sip Magazine, out in March 2023, we meet some of the producers in the Northwest who work with Cab Franc as a varietal grape. To get a taste of all that Cab Franc has to offer, below are a few bottles that showcase this versatile grape.

The Wine List

2021 Chinook Cabernet Franc Rosé, Lonesome Spring Vineyard | Yakima Valley AVA

Kay Simon and Clay Mackey have been making red varietal Cab Franc since 1995. In 1998, they produced the first Rosé of Cab Franc in Washington. Their winemaking style is all about showcasing the fruit — the wines are typically lighter, lower alcohol and less tannic. This off-dry Rosé offers the subtle aroma and flavor of strawberries. Chinook will be releasing a 2020 100% Cab Franc this spring, and the 2022 Cab Franc Rosé in the summer.

$17 | 13% ABV

2018 Kiona Estate Cabernet Franc | Red Mountain AVA

Red Mountain is known for big reds and this wine is no exception. A blend of 83% Cab Franc and 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, this is a big, bold, full-bodied structured wine. It delivers a nice balance of acidity, fruit and grippy tannins. Although the alcohol level might be a little on the high side for a Cab Franc, Kiona showcases the grape in a uniquely lovely Red Mountain style.

$50 | 15.6% ABV

Photo by Matty H Photography

2020 Quady North “La Battalla” | Rogue Valley AVA

La Battalla is a blend of 87% Cab Franc and 13% Malbec, the traditional blending grape for Loire Cab Franc wines. Whole clusters of Malbec were co-fermented with the Cab Franc, adding both darkness to the color and richness to the flavor of this very approachable wine. Quady North also makes a sparkling méthode champenoise Brut Rosé from Cab Franc and will be releasing several varietal Cab Franc wines later this year.

$22 | 13.5% ABV

2019 Spring Valley Estate “Katherine Corkrum” Cabernet Franc | Walla Walla Valley AVA

This 100% Cabernet Franc offers aromas of dark cherries mixed with herbal elements. The wine has a complementary blend of acidity, savoriness and soft tannins delivering an enjoyable drinking experience. Spring Valley also produces a Rosé of Cabernet Franc and a limited edition 2017 “Corkrum” Cab Franc.

$60 | 14.5% ABV

2018 Tempus Cabernet Franc, Sagemoor Vineyards | Wahluke Slope AVA

This wine is a blend of 75% Cab Franc and 25% Merlot. The wine provides inviting aromatics, and a beautiful silky mouthfeel. The addition of Merlot makes it a more approachable and intriguing wine.

$40 | 14.4% ABV


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