Taking Center Stage: Single Varietal Cabernet Franc Shines

In an orchestra, every musician is important and must play his part fully, but it is the principal of each instrumental section that garners the most attention and praise. Although Cabernet Franc may frequently play second fiddle to virtuoso Cabernet Sauvignon, it has been emerging lately and more frequently in starring solo performances such as this. It’s gaining credibility and standing on its own two feet.

Cabernet Franc is traditionally a blending grape used in Bordeaux blends (along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot and occasionally Carménère). Because of its tartness, tight structure, and other qualities, it is not normally featured as a “soloist” in a wine or wine blend. Cabernet Sauvignon is more commonly consumed as a single varietal than Cabernet Franc. But there are some wonderful, compelling Cabernet Francs, and this, I think, is one of them.

Corvidae The Keeper 2010 Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley is a bold and precocious soloist. This wine has an interesting aroma: tobacco, floral – rose, pepper. The flavor is so big at the very end it’s almost like you literally have to chew it. It’s tart, but with a big, explosive plush mouth feel at the finish. This wine will shine at its best when paired with the right foods. In its review, it proves itself a versatile and highly competent contender with other varietals.

From the tasting notes: “Plush and velvety, full-bodied and easy drinking. The scent and flavors knock you out – spice joins black tea, fresh tobacco, thyme, sweet cedar chips, blackberries and cassis. When Cabernet Franc is made from well ripened fruit (as this wine is), it combines plush fruit and interesting accent notes with body that stands well with rich roasted and grilled meats. This deliciously large version of Cab Franc is smoother than Cabernet Sauvignon, less earthy than Merlot, approachable like Aussie Syrah and spicy like a smooth Zinfandel. There’s few options to pair this wine incorrectly, but try these especially: green peppercorn roasted pork tenderloin, hearty lasagna, or braised chicken with wild mushroom ragout.”

This is a wine I would put in the “very interesting, worth trying” category. It is made by a very talented and acclaimed Washington winemaker, David O’Reilly, whose wineries are under the names O’Reilly’s and Owen Roe. You can read more about him here. The Keeper might not be for everybody, but I know many of you will enjoy it… or at least be surprised by what it can do!

So, give overlooked Cabernet Franc a fighting chance! Take a break from Cabernet Sauvignon and sit back and indulge in this dazzling, delightful Cabernet Franc.


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