Once upon a time, two grapes mingled in a vineyard and produced an offspring so brash and bold it was destined to eclipse them both-and then some. That 'baby grape' was Cabernet Sauvignon, so ubiquitous that some people think it's synonymous with 'red wine'. Actual conversation:
'This is a Grenache'.
'What kind of Cabernet is that?'
California alone produces 33 million cases of Cabernet Sauvignon annually. And 'Cab' is grown everywhere-Bordeaux, South Africa, Argentina, Bulgaria, Italy, and more. But this isn't about Cabernet Sauvignon. No, I want to talk about Cab's 'Daddy', Cabernet Franc.
I LOVE Cabernet Franc. I seek it out on wine lists, search it out for the store, and am endlessly fascinated and distracted by it. "This is a decent little Chenin Blanc...good length...OOOH! You brought a Cab Franc?!!!" It's my version of 'Squirrel!' And I nearly made Cassie do a spit take recently when I described myself as a Cab Franc slu*.
Cab Franc likely originated in France's Basque Country, then gained footholds in the Loire and Bordeaux. Earlier ripening than its famous offspring, it's useful in areas plagued by short growing seasons or early fall frosts. It is beloved by wine geeks like yours truly for the savory and spicy notes that accent its plum and berry fruit flavors. Unlike Cabernet Sauvignon, which tends to dominate its terroir, Cab Franc is a changeable, capricious minx of a grape. A bottle from Basque country is markedly different than a Loire Valley Chinon, and wildly divergent from a bottle of Tuscan Bolgheri Rosso.
You likely won't be shocked to hear we carry a *few* Cab Francs in the store? The brashness of California's Larkin Family. Jaulin-Plaisantin's organic beauty of a Chinon. Too many elegant Right Bank Bordeaux to name. And our new find, Folie des Grains, a ridiculously delicious just off-dry barely fizzy pink wonder.
Come on over to the Dark(er) Side-we have wine! Who's your Daddy?