AS WE APPROACH THE RELEASE OF THE 2014 DYER VINEYARD CABERNET FRANC,
WE THOUGHT IT would BE A GOOD IDEA TO POST
THE CABERNET FRANC STORY
Cabernet Franc has long been our favorite blending variety here at Dyer Vineyard and is best known worldwide in that capacity- used most often with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the making of Bordeaux style wines. However, on it’s own, Cabernet Franc is one of the major black grape varieties across the globe and is a major variety in right bank Bordeaux, specifically St Emilion, Pomerol and Fronsac. It is vinified alone in the Loire’s Chinon. In California it is primarily a blending variety but is finding increasing acceptance as a stand-alone variety, especially when grown in well drained soils where ripeness is easily obtained. In Napa Valley, soil conditions in the Diamond Mountain District make it ideal for growing fine Cabernet Franc.
Cabernet Franc is lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, making a bright pale red wine that contributes finesse and lends a peppery perfume (think graphite and violets) when blended with more robust grapes. Depending on the growing region and style of wine, additional aromas can include tobacco, raspberry, bell pepper, cassis, and violets.
Records of Cabernet Franc in Bordeaux go back to the end of the 18th century, although it was planted in Loire long before that time. DNA analysis indicates that Cabernet Franc is one of two parents of Cabernet Sauvignon- the other being Sauvignon Blanc! This discovery was made during genetic trials at UC Davis in the lab of Dr Carol Meredith in 1997.
Cabernet Franc shares many of the same phenolic and aroma compounds as Cabernet Sauvignon but with some noticeable differences. Cabernet Franc tends to be more lightly pigmented while producing wines with the same level of intensity and richness. Cabernet Franc tends to have a more pronounced perfume with notes of raspberries, blackcurrants, violets and graphite. It has slightly less tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon and tends to produce a wine with a smoother mouthfeel.