Among the red Bordeaux varieties grown in Washington, the two big players continue to be Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Yet Cabernet Franc continues to come up on many wine lovers’ radars – and for good reason.
Overall, Washington Cabernet Franc is the No. 4 red wine grape, behind Cab, Merlot and Syrah. In 2014, Washington grape growers harvested 3,300 tons, enough to make about 200,000 cases – if that was all the grape was used for.
However, a large percentage of Washington Cabernet Franc is included in blends, including many of the wines labeled Cabernet Sauvignon. While Cabernet Franc can be fairly robust, it often provides softer tannins than either Washington Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. As such, adding a bit of Cab Franc can bevel the edges of an otherwise big red wine.
Cabernet Franc also can exhibit aromas and flavors of dried herbs alongside notes of black pepper and red-tones fruits. All of these make for an elegant and complex red wine.
Have you tried a Washington Cabernet Franc recently? Here are a few we’ve tasted that are well worth seeking out. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly.