Cabernet Franc: from supporting role to rising star

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On Cabernet Franc Day, celebrated each year on December 4 — appropriate as it makes a great red wine for cold winter nights — many wine lovers will hopefully give this grape a new look … and sip.

Cabernet Franc has long been the backbone of red blends, usually with Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Merlot for Bordeaux-style blends that are French in style, or in Meritage blends, as we call them in BC, that can include Malbec or Petit Verdot.

But Cabernet Franc on its own has a growing presence in the Okanagan, and certainly deserves its own day! Franc vines are thriving in the southern end of the Okanagan Valley and produce ripe, bright wines that can have herbaceous and peppery notes, elegant red fruits and inviting tannins on the palate, and just the right body to stand up to a hearty dish.

We have a few on the Bottleneck Drive, and one of our cider producers is on the mix too.

Free Form: Cabernet Franc from an organic vineyard in Kaleden was destemmed and put into two clay amphorae and three large oak vessels. Native fermentation started spontaneously and finished in spring. After eight months of skin contact the wine was pressed off in June and blended to a concrete tank to settle naturally and bottled mid-August 2018.

Dark black plums with black berry fruit, a smoky note with rich mocha and classical cabernet franc herbal aromatics. Juicy red fruits dance with excellent structure and our hallmark mouthwatering freshness. ($44.90) okanagancrushpad.com/story/free-form/

Narrative: A blend of Cabernet Franc grapes sourced from the Black Sage and Golden Mile Benches in Oliver, BC. The wine was fermented and aged in concrete tank for 9 months prior to bottling in late July 2018. Powerful flavours of red fruits are coupled with elegant mid palate weight and a supple finish. ($29.90) okanagancrushpad.com/story/narrative-wine/

Sumac Ridge/Black Sage: The nose has pleasant aromas of red berries, red currants, dried strawberries, and smoky mocha notes. The flavours on the nose carry over to the palate with bright red fruits, mocha, vanilla and a hint of spice on the finish. The acidity is lively, and the tannins are firm yet approachable. ($26.49) www.blacksagevineyard.ca/Wines

Silkscarf: The short and hot Okanagan growing season allows this variety to consistently produce noteworthy wines in our region. A great example of an Okanagan style Cabernet franc, this wine opens with a mixed nose of black and red berries, earth, oak and Savoury notes. The palate exhibits the delightful character of this variety, with ripe tannins, good acidity and balanced alcohol. Notes of blackberry, redcurrant, tobacco, and vanilla lead to a long finish. A wine to be married with food. ($36.60) silkscarf-winery.com/collections/

Nomad Cider: (SOLD OUT) Hybrid Series – These small-batch ciders were co-fermented with wine grape skins and/or juice to create cider-wine hybrids. We never use concentrates or extracts, only fresh local ingredients. Fermented on fresh pressed Cabernet Franc skins from a local Summerland winery. www.nomadcider.ca/

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