Cabernet Franc is a grape of French origin that is the parent of Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc is used as a blending grape in Bordeaux and as a single varietal in the Loire Valley. Cabernet Franc wines tend to be a little less tannic and a little softer with more red fruit character than its progeny. These wines also tend to have some earthiness and typically a vegetal character which can be either pleasing or off-putting depending on the skill of the winemaker. We at Foothills Wino are generally of the opinion that with most varieties, it is unwise to try to make European style wines from Foothills grapes. The biggest exception to this rule is Cabernet Franc, though. The best versions for us are acidic and a little rough around the edges, not Napa-style fruit bombs. There are several very good Cabernet Francs in the Foothills. Here are our favorites.
FOOTHILLS WINO PANEL SELECTION
BEST CABERNET FRANC
Many years ago, I was bemoaning the lack of spectacular Cab Franc in the Foothills while I was visiting winemaker Mark Fowler at Andis. Mark got a smile on his face and said, "wait until you try this one. This fruit comes from this tucked away, high elevation vineyard where the grapes just hang on the vine forever and never over-ripen." He was right and my mind was instantly blown. This wine gets better every year, and the grapes are now sourced from several high elevation vineyards (some at 3200 ft), each vinified separately and then blended before maturation where it gets a delicate touch of oak. Andis isn't scared to let acid drive the structure, and one might easily confuse this wine for something from the Touraine. This is not only the best Cab Franc in the Foothills, it might well be the best wine.
OTHER FAVORITE FOOTHILLS CABERNET FRANC WINES
Cabernet Franc is not the first wine that comes to mind when you think of this amazing winery, but maybe it should be. This wine, sourced from the high elevation Byecroft Vineyard in Pleasant Valley, is nicely balanced and hits all of the right notes. The only problem is that it isn't easy to find and is rarely on the tasting menu... a pity because it is truly delicious.
Lava Cap fruit made with Chateau Davell magic? Yes please! Fruity, powerful, and spicy, this wine is not known to many, but we suggest you familiarize yourself with it. And be sure to tell owner, winemaker Eric Hays to make more of this.
Bill Easton might be best known for his Rhone varieties and Zinfandels, but his Bordeaux varieties are no less spectacular. The grapes for this wine are sourced from the high elevation Monarch Mine Vineyard on the northern edge of El Dorado county which produces amazing Cabernet Franc grapes, and Bill does with them what he does best... make a perfectly balanced, subtle yet complex masterpiece.
This fruit-centric powerhouse from Lava Cap with a substantial oak influence is bigger and bolder than some of the other Cab Francs on this list, but no less delicious. These estate grown grapes from old vines planted on a cool, northern slope at 2500 feet produce a ripe and full bodied, age-worthy wine that is the best the region has to offer in this style.