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Cabernet Franc?

c
cor Jun 8, 2007 10:01 AM

I tried some Cabernet Franc at a vineyard in Sonoma last year and fell in love with it. What are some good, moderately priced brands for Cabernet Franc that I could find in most wine stores?

Thanks :)

  1. r
    rickym13 Jun 20, 2007 10:46 AM

    just had 04' detert cab franc from napa and it was very good! cost of the bottle is $51

    1. Midlife Jun 13, 2007 05:39 PM

      If you should ever come across it outside the winery, Acorn (near Healdsburg, Sonoma) makes a stand-alone Cab Franc that has excellent body and distinctive fruit tones. They make it from fruit grown on their own property and it is somewhat prone to vintage variations - ie- the more current '04 is significantly more subtle than the '03 (which was much more full-bodied). As I think most other posters have suggested...... some varietals (cab franc among them) are difficult to get right, maybe because they're most often used for blending. When they DO get it right, though, they can be really outstanding.

      1. ambrose Jun 13, 2007 04:25 PM

        The only Cabernet Franc I've tried is the ubiquitous Lang & Reed and I can't say that I was smitten.

        I was in my local Wegman's today and saw a Cabernet Franc from Raats in South Africa. I've had one of their chenin blancs, which I liked, but I'd be interested in any comments about the cab. franc.

        1. Husky Jun 12, 2007 08:11 AM

          http://free.winelibrary.com/

          1 Reply
          1. re: Husky
            TonyO Jun 12, 2007 07:37 PM

            Keenan (CA) and Owen Roe (WA / OR) are both excellent

          2. Chinon00 Jun 11, 2007 07:07 PM

            I hate to be a broken record but at some point I'd think that along with the suggestions that many of you have offered (of which are undoubtly fine Cab Francs) that some of you would take the time to actually describe or tell us what makes these Cab francs wonderful enough for you all to suggest them. Could we whet the appetite a little (or are we to conclude that they are all pretty much along the same line; a lesser or greater expression of a single theme (requiring no distinguishing [oak-fruit bombs])?

            18 Replies
            1. re: Chinon00
              oolah Jun 11, 2007 07:52 PM

              Good point. Here are my tasting notes from the 2005 Domaine Saint Vincent Saumur-Champigny "Les Trezellières"

              Served a bit chilled and had nice peppery and currant notes, with great acidity. Medium-bodied and fruity. This is not complex, but like many Loire Valley wines, it's a great value. Easy drinking and great accompaniment to grilled meats, especially sausage.

              Like zin1953 said, this is not really at all like California Cab Francs. The pepperiness is there in both, but this isn't a fruit-forward Cab Sauv-style wine. It's crisp and lively, not heavy and oaky.

              1. re: Chinon00
                s
                sjb7501 Jun 12, 2007 06:32 AM

                Saying you like Chinon AOC is like saying you like Bordeaux... There are so many different styles at the hands of different winemakers and in different villages there that it's not much help just to say "Chinon" either...

                1. re: sjb7501
                  Chinon00 Jun 12, 2007 09:05 AM

                  Two points:
                  1) Chinon is one appellation while the Bordeaux region is comprised of many, many appellations (e.g. Medoc, Margaux, Pomerol, Graves, etc).
                  2) Bordeaux is roughly 30 times larger than Chinon and with many different types of grapes grown there. Chinon is virtually all Cabernet Franc and has a fraction of the number wine houses of Bordeaux.

                  These points do suggest significant diversity within Bordeaux but not within Chinon.

                  1. re: Chinon00
                    s
                    sjb7501 Jun 12, 2007 09:38 AM

                    No comparison is going to match a situation perfectly.

                    Chinon is, however, much more complex than just being a simple appellation. Even the different cuvées from one producer are extremely different. Something like Philippe Alliet's Coteau de Noiré needs at least 10 years' aging, while something frank and easy going like Baudry's Les Granges is immediate, light drinking pleasure. The Coteau de Noiré from Alliet is more like a left-bank Bordeaux in its dense and tannic structure.

                    There is also the difference between soils. Baudry makes Les Grézeaux on chalky soil, and you can taste the difference in it.

                    Joguet makes a number of excellent wines at all levels of soil, exposure and complexity, including one with non-grafted rootstock, les Varennes du Grand Clos.

                    1. re: sjb7501
                      Chinon00 Jun 12, 2007 01:38 PM

                      How significant is appellation in your opinion?

                      1. re: Chinon00
                        s
                        sjb7501 Jun 12, 2007 11:34 PM

                        It is important, too - it's definitely the first thing to look at in judging what a wine may taste like; it lays down a general groundwork. You know a Pauillac will probably have notes of tobacco and lead pencil. A Saint-Emilion will have more red fruit. Etc. After that, you get into particularities of domains or châteaux or winemakers. A Pommard from Comte Armand is going to be a silky, delicious thing, while a Pommard from Bernard Delagrange is insipid and tastes very little like a good Pommard with character.

                        So, while it's helpful to know, "I like Pommard," it's also helpful to know which versions of it, especially when giving advice!

                        1. re: sjb7501
                          Chinon00 Jun 13, 2007 03:29 AM

                          I appreciate your response and agree that it would be further helpful to provide details in addition to appellation. However, I did describe what I like about Chinon generally above (i.e. cranberry, minerality) which is a broad tendency within the appellation but may not capture the entire picture I grant you. Also, I think that we have already agreed that, knowing nothing else, suggesting an appellation alone provides more information than suggesting A BOTTLE ALONE (which many have done on this post and which was what prompted me to respond).

                          As I mentioned in another post, for me it helps to be familiar which the tendencies of a an appellation and using that as a basis for selection rather than trying to obtain wine from THIS suggested vineyard or THAT suggested producer. I find this particularly helpful when finding oneself at that wine shoppe or in front of a wine list. (And it just makes you smarter about wine)

                          I like to look at it as the place being the "flavor" and not the grape. However, these days with race (to the bottom IMHO) to international style (i.e. big wood, fruit) these nuances are becoming less and less apparent (and important). - Off my soapbox.

                  2. re: sjb7501
                    z
                    zin1953 Jun 20, 2007 10:12 AM

                    Sorry to be jumping in late, but I've been out of the country on vacation . . .

                    >>> Saying you like Chinon AOC is like saying you like Bordeaux... <<<

                    With respect . . . no.

                    Every wine comes in different styles, be it Champagne, Chardonnay, Bordeaux or Chinon -- so, while it may be true that it is ALWAYS a good idea to specify *which* Bordeaux or *which* Chinon (producer AND vintage) one likes -- saying one likes Chinon is very different (IMHO) than saying one likes Bordeaux.

                    Chinon is but one appellation covering only 2,100 hectares (approx. 5,200 acres) and is 98 percent red wine (exclusively Cabernet Franc), and two percent white wine (exclusively Chenin Blanc).

                    Bordeaux, OTOH, is a region that consists of 57 different appellations (one of which, I'll grant you, is indeed named simply "Bordeaux"), and exceeds 115,000 hectares (approx. 285,000 acres). Some appellations produce red wines exclusively, some are exclusively white and dry, while others are exclusively wine and sweet and some can produce both red AND white wines. The wines are overwhelmingly blends, though some single varietal wines do exist, and these blends can be dominiated by one specific grape variety or none . . . . Sauvignon Blanc, Semilion, Muscadelle, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Caberent Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and a bit of Carmenere . . . .

                    So while I do agree that specific producer and vintage are important, the stylistic range between one Chinon and another is narrower (at its extremes) than between two examples of Bordeaux.

                    But that's just me . . . .

                    1. re: zin1953
                      s
                      sjb7501 Jun 20, 2007 11:41 AM

                      Maybe I should repeat: "No comparison is going to match a situation perfectly."

                      Bordeaux, yes, is much broader an appellation than Chinon (unless we're talking about the AOC Bordeaux, which is just straight (blended) low-end red wine). Chinon, by the way, also produces white and rosé wines, and allows up to 10% blends in with the cabernet franc. Try some Joguet chenin.

                      Perhaps I should have only used Pommard as a comparison point. One grape. One village. Many different wines and expressions of the village, from sublime to crap.

                      1. re: sjb7501
                        Chinon00 Jun 20, 2007 12:37 PM

                        I'm curious (because I don't know a whole lot about Burgundy), but could you please describe the MANY different "expressions of [Pommard]"?

                        Thanks

                        1. re: Chinon00
                          s
                          sjb7501 Jun 21, 2007 05:52 AM

                          Sure. Burgundy, unlike Bordeaux, is very much broken down into small parcels. Each parcel is classified by the INAO (Institut National des Appellations d'Origine), from regional appellation to village appellation to premier cru appellation to grand cru appellation. So, for instance in the village of Pommard, the outlying or lower-classified plots go into wine that gets labeled simply "Bourgogne". Then there are village plots. A Pommard that uses a mix of different village plots is labeled "Pommard". A Pommard with grapes from a single plot in the village appellation plots is labeled "Pommard 'Plot Name'" with the plot name in quotes after the word Pommard (e.g. Pommard "Vaumuriens"). Same for premier crus. A Pommard wine made from grapes that are all from premier cru plots is labeled "Pommard 1er Cru". If all the grapes are from a single premier cru plot, it is labeled "Pommard 1er Cru 'Plot Name'" (e.g. Pommard 1er Cru "Pézerolle"). There are no grand crus in Pommard, but for example in a village such as Gevrey-Chambertin, there are a number of grand-cru plots, and they lose the name of the village to become Chambertin, Charmes-Chambertin, Griottes-Chambertin, etc.

                          Anyway... Within Pommard, not only does plot or "cru" status make a difference to the final wine (for instance, a Pommard village will mature much earlier than a 1er cru; also, one 1er cru from the same producer will be very different from a different 1er cru from the same producer and the same year: Montille's Pézerolle and Rugiens are completely different beasts) - but in Burgundy the key, key, key factor is producer. As I noted earlier, there are excellent producers and there are weak ones. One of the weakest is Bernard Delagrange, who makes indifferent, low-quality juice. One of the top is Comte Armand, also Montille, Rebourgeon-Mure, etc. The wines from these producers, even simple village Pommards, will have much more going on... and will also have a purer expression of their village and plot. One of the biggest pitfalls of shoddy or incompetent producers is producing a wine that tastes like it could be from anywhere, or nowhere...

                          Hope this helps!!

                          1. re: sjb7501
                            z
                            zin1953 Jun 21, 2007 06:15 AM

                            While I agree completely with what you've said here, I'm not sure it addresses the question of "different expression" so much as the different quality of the various producers. (Clearly one would be better served buying a Pommard from a négociant rather than from Delagrange, but would be better off buying from Comte Armand than a négociant -- presuming one looks solely at quality.)

                            Perhaps this just boils down to semantics, but when I think of the term "expression" (in the context of "many different wines and expressions"), I tend to think of the variances in stylistic expression within the appellation (or grape), rather than the quality differences between one wine and the next. Thus -- to use a much more obvious example than Pommard -- some Sonoma Pinot Noirs express a more traditional (i.e.: "Burgundian") character, while others display the bigger, bolder, more intense expression of the grape.

                            It isn't just "shoddy or incompetent producers is producing a wine that tastes like it could be from anywhere, or nowhere." We have -- I think -- both tasted "international" wines that could have come from anywhere, that have no sense of place, of origin. Many of these are lower-end wines, but not exclusively by any means.

                            Take a producer/négociant like Dominique Laurent, for example -- controversial as he may be . . . hardly a "shoddy" or "incompetent" example, and yet I have always found his villages-level wines to be a better expression of terroir, of place, of the appellation itself, than his Grands Crus. It's always seemed to me that -- while the lower appellations have a distinct sense of place -- the "higher" one goes in his line-up, the more the wines taste of Dominique and lose the expression of place, of character -- even something as obvious (well, usually obvious, anyway) as the differences between a Musigny and a Chambertin often become indistinguishable in his hands.

                            Jason

                            1. re: zin1953
                              s
                              sjb7501 Jun 21, 2007 07:05 AM

                              I think we have just entered the zone of semantics, here... We don't fundamentally disagree.

                              But a producer's "expression" of the same plot matters. And I'm not just talking shoddy, placeless wines vs. earthy, nuanced ones.

                              A lot of expensive stuff from well-reputed producers and negociants in Burgundy is disappointing. I have never enjoyed a bottle from Bouchard Père et Fils, for instance, from simple Beaune or Chassagne-Montrachet village wines to Volnay 1er cru "Cailleret" and Meursault 1er cru "Goutte d'Or" (not to mention their generic Bourgogne, which, bafflingly, seems to get praise).

                              As far as Laurent goes, that is definitely a charge that has been laid against him often. Unfortunately, my experience with his wines is limited to a 2002 Nuits-Saint-Georges village and a 1998 Clos de la Roche. Since I am not enough of a Clos de la Roche connaisseur to be able to say whether or not that particular grand cru was captured by Laurent, and since I haven't tasted his other 1998 grands crus, I can't address that. The Nuits-Saint-Georges was very Nuits, but then again, that is what you're saying...

                            2. re: sjb7501
                              Chinon00 Jun 21, 2007 07:31 AM

                              I think that we must think in relative terms though. To get completely absurd couldn't one suggest that one of a producer's wines has "many different expressions" from vintage to vintage or even within a vintage (i.e. the taste/nose from say release versus five or ten years on)? We must draw a line somewhere that's reasonable.

                              1. re: Chinon00
                                s
                                sjb7501 Jun 21, 2007 09:32 AM

                                Yep, I believe we have officially entered hair-splitting territory! Let's put this one to rest... Especially since we're not even talking about Cabernet Franc anymore!

                                1. re: Chinon00
                                  w
                                  whiner Jun 21, 2007 09:36 AM

                                  Ok. I think you all now realize that you are arguing over semantics.

                                  The real question is what does a person want when asking for a varietal. And the answer is: it varies. Sometimes the exact flavor or wine knowledge is less important than geting the best possible wine in a broad category. Sometimes the inverse is true. But if you start talking about regions, I do think you then need to discuss vintatges and producers. Many of my favorite Burgs tend to come from Clos de Beze. However, even at those prices, there are certainly some duds -- lots of them.

                                  1. re: whiner
                                    Chinon00 Jun 21, 2007 10:35 AM

                                    But again whiner the issue isn't about quality. I think that we can all appreciate that Appellation Chinon or any other appellation doesn't necessarily equal "quality" but it does suggest a style or or styles within a narrow(er) boundary of thought.
                                    And as for "getting the best possible wine in a broad category" I find that totally problematic. What is the best possible Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris/Grigio when they are available in many styles, from many countries, and many regions from many countries.
                                    Having established that, I think that the bottom line is that the person asking for the suggestion be clear on what they liked about the wine so those of us making suggestions can serve them better (instead of listing our favorites which may or may not be what they're looking for).
                                    If some one asked me for a great Sauvignon Blanc (or as you would suggest the "best") where would one start? Bordeaux, Loire, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, North America, South Africa, South America . . .

                                    Chaos!

                                    1. re: whiner
                                      z
                                      zin1953 Jun 21, 2007 11:47 AM

                                      Returning to Cabernet Franc for a moment . . . .

                                      The "expression" of the variety was precisely my point way, way, waaaayyyyy above (06/09/2007) when I wrote:

                                      >>>>> There are some excellent Cabernet Francs that originate in the Loire Valley of France, most famously from the appellations d'origine contrôllée of Chinon, Bourgeuil, Anjou and Saumur-Champigny, BUT . . . . they taste nothing like the vast majority of Cabernet Franc wines produced in California . . . <<<<<

                      2. s
                        sjb7501 Jun 11, 2007 03:20 PM

                        Chinon from Bernard Baudry or (maybe easier to find) Charles Joguet. Great rustic expressions of the grape.

                        1. w
                          whiner Jun 11, 2007 03:08 AM

                          Since there are so many not moderately priced Cab Francs on this list let me add Soter. Really juicy, but very good.

                          (I'm also completely behind the Crocker and Starr and Chappellet recs)

                          If you have any very rich friends, or ones who have insanely good wine cellars, I'm convinced the greatest wines ever made in CA were some of the '90s Dalla Valle Maya's, which were 50%+ Cab Franc. The 1992 is one of my favorite wines of all time.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: whiner
                            d
                            dinwiddie Jun 20, 2007 10:36 AM

                            Now you know why I liked drinking from whiner's cellar. We were all bummed when he moved to the other coast.

                            1. re: dinwiddie
                              w
                              whiner Jun 20, 2007 11:54 AM

                              Awww, shucks. Thanks! But, of course you realize, the '92 Maya was from DRAB's collection ;-)

                          2. r
                            rickym13 Jun 10, 2007 05:44 PM

                            just picked up 2 great cab franc yesterday....not cheap but really good!

                            04' detert cab franc @ $59
                            04' wolf family cab franc @ $51

                            1. z
                              zin1953 Jun 9, 2007 08:48 AM

                              You've gotten some very good suggestions for California Cabernet Franc -- Pride, Crocker & Starr, Paradigm, Chappellet, Harrison, etc. Having started with Caberent Franc from California, I would respectfully advise that you stay there . . . or Washington State.

                              There are some excellent Cabernet Francs that originate in the Loire Valley of France, most famously from the appellations d'origine contrôllée of Chinon, Bourgeuil, Anjou and Saumur-Champigny, BUT . . . . they taste nothing like the vast majority of Cabernet Franc wines produced in California (or Washington State). Stylistically, most CA Cab Francs are similar to CA Cabernet Sauvignons; this is not true of Loire Cab Francs, which are generally quite different. Long Island produces many fine Cab Francs, which -- in style -- are somewhat inbetween.

                              Jason

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: zin1953
                                Chinon00 Jun 9, 2007 10:55 AM

                                That is exactly where I was going (and have been going) when it comes to wine suggestions. As one who enjoys Cabernet Franc I'm happy that the OP has discovered it. But as I've said before a grape shouldn't be looked at as just a "flavor", it can also reflect a place (which is when I find it at its most interesting).
                                I enjoy Appellation Chinon Contrôllée wine for its simpleness, tartness, cranberry-ness and for its minerality-ness, but mostly I enjoy it for its nakedness for without this the former wouldn't be as apparent.

                                1. re: zin1953
                                  m
                                  mojoeater Jun 11, 2007 03:25 PM

                                  Zin - what do you think of the Cab Franc's coming out of Virginia? I had a nice one from Veritas Vineyards recently.

                                  1. re: mojoeater
                                    scrappydog Jun 11, 2007 04:14 PM

                                    Not Zin, but a former east coaster. As Dinwiddie mentioned above, several Virginia vineyards produce a Cab Franc. When we were living in the east, we used to get the Breaux (Loudon Co., VA) "Lafayette", which was their Cab Franc. A decent wine for a little under $20 a few years ago. Have not seen it in SOCAL, but have not looked. We tried a few others at the Vintage VA wine festival. Several good ones, although I don't remember all the details. Cab Franc and Norton were two of the Red varieties that seemed to be done relatively well by several VA wineries.

                                    1. re: scrappydog
                                      m
                                      mojoeater Jun 11, 2007 04:43 PM

                                      I've found that the Cab Franc's from VA are much better than the Cab Sauv or Merlot varieties. I've had a couple of good Viogniers too.

                                      Is Breaux run by the former Louisiana Senator's family?

                                      1. re: mojoeater
                                        scrappydog Jun 11, 2007 04:57 PM

                                        Yes. Same family, not sure of the exact relationship. They have a crawfish boil at the vineyard in the summer usually. It is a fun place to visit. They have a few other nice wines besides the Cab Franc, but that one is my favorite.

                                    2. re: mojoeater
                                      The Dive Jun 14, 2007 12:48 PM

                                      I was recently in Virginia and tried quite a few Cab Francs (as well as quite a few other varietals). I think overall the Cab Franc works there. I wasn't, however, that keen on the Veritas. Linden was by far the best I had.

                                  2. The Dive Jun 8, 2007 05:00 PM

                                    I am a big fan of Acorn's Cab Franc (Russian River Valley).

                                    1. Chinon00 Jun 8, 2007 04:49 PM

                                      How would you describe the Cabernet Franc that you drank from Sonoma (i.e. fruit-character, acidity, etc)?

                                      Thanks

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Chinon00
                                        w
                                        wally Jun 8, 2007 06:24 PM

                                        What are your favorites of your namesake wine?

                                        1. re: wally
                                          Chinon00 Jun 8, 2007 07:00 PM

                                          Chinon appellation d'origine contrôlée or there abouts.

                                      2. ChefJune Jun 8, 2007 12:13 PM

                                        my favorite Cali Cab Franc is Chimney Rock's.

                                        1. r
                                          rickym13 Jun 8, 2007 11:25 AM

                                          best cab franc from calif is pride!

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: rickym13
                                            r
                                            rickym13 Jun 8, 2007 04:25 PM

                                            few more cab franc that i like....but these can be little costly.

                                            chappellet pritchard hill cab franc
                                            crocker & starr cab franc
                                            larkin cab franc
                                            paradigm cab franc

                                            1. re: rickym13
                                              ibstatguy Jun 9, 2007 08:36 AM

                                              Pam Starr and Heidi Barrett make darn good cab franc!

                                          2. oolah Jun 8, 2007 10:25 AM

                                            A lot of Loire Valley wines are Cab Franc and you can find some well-priced ones. I don't know how widely available this is, but I really enjoyed this bottle:

                                            2005 Domaine Saint Vincent Saumur-Champigny "Les Trezellières"

                                            And it was only 10 bucks! Drink it a little bit chilled for best results.

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: oolah
                                              d
                                              dinwiddie Jun 8, 2007 11:23 AM

                                              You are not likely to find much in the way of Cab Franc in most wine shops because very few wineries make it as a stand alone variatal. One of my favorites is the 1996 Beringer Thired Centry Howell Mountain, but it is not available anymore and it was not cheap. You might have luck finding some from Washington as they make a good bit (relative to other places, nobody makes a lot of it here in the US). Try looking for one by Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia, or by O/S. Pride makes a very good one, but it is expensive. La Jota, Lang and Reed, and Chateau St. Jean all make a pretty good one. Your are more likely to be able to find someone who is doing a Bordeaux blend that is majority cab franc. They make a good bit of it in Canada, New York, and of all places Virginia.

                                              1. re: dinwiddie
                                                j
                                                jdf Jun 8, 2007 03:22 PM

                                                There is one from New York (Long Island) that I really like, which is the Schneider Cabernet Franc. But, it is a small production and I've been having trouble locating it even in NYC. Its very good, though.

                                                1. re: jdf
                                                  s
                                                  sjb7501 Jun 11, 2007 03:18 PM

                                                  Paumanok on LI also makes excellent cabernet franc. A great winery.

                                                  1. re: jdf
                                                    j
                                                    jdream Jun 12, 2007 01:43 PM

                                                    I love that Schneider Cab Franc as well (after trying it at the Harrison) but agree that it is really difficult to find... but what a great glass of wine!

                                                    1. re: jdream
                                                      j
                                                      jdf Jun 12, 2007 03:57 PM

                                                      Do you know of any stores that currently have it? Astor Wines used to, but no more. I heard Red, White and Bubbly may have it. But, other than that can't find it anywhere.

                                                      1. re: jdf
                                                        oolah Jun 12, 2007 05:40 PM

                                                        Maybe try Vintage New York. They only have NY state wines, so they're likely to carry it.

                                                        http://www.vintagenewyork.com/

                                                        1. re: jdf
                                                          j
                                                          jdream Jun 13, 2007 06:38 AM

                                                          I'm pretty sure that if you go online you can order it through the vineyard directly. The only place I was ever able to find it was Astor.

                                                2. Carrie 218 Jun 8, 2007 10:05 AM

                                                  I'm a tremendous CabFranc fan. I can't tell you what you might find in a local store because every region stocks differently and you don't indicate where you are.

                                                  My hands-down favorite is from Harrison. Pride is also well-known for their's but I don't think it gets into stores. From Sonoma, I really like Gundlach Bundschu's CabFranc.

                                                  1. l
                                                    lebelage Jun 8, 2007 10:04 AM

                                                    I love cabernet franc

                                                    Lang&Reed makes some nice affordable ones.

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