In the March issue of the Review of Washington Wines there are ten wines made from the Cabernet Franc grape, all different and including red wines, white wines and rosés, which shows how versatile the variety can be. Here's more about this grape and how it can be made into wine.

Cabernet Franc is the parent of Cabernet Sauvignon which is a crossing of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. It originated in the Loire Valley and was introduced into Bordeaux in the 17th century, but it now plays a secondary role to Merlot in the Right Bank of the Gironde (Saint Emilion and Pomerol) and a tertiary role in the Left Bank (Medoc, Graves) behind Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It is only in the Loire Valley where the grape originated that Cabernet Franc plays a primary role as a variety and is the source for Saumur Rouge, Chinon, Bourgeuil and St. Nicolas de Bourgeuil.

Cabernet Franc cuttings were imported to California in the 19th century, but Cabernet Sauvignon became more favored. There, Cabernet Franc veered toward vegetal characteristics (especially bell pepper). But in Washington, the vegetal character is toned down, with riper aromatics and suggestions of tobacco, coffee and herbs. One explanation is that the longer daylight hours and cooler nights make Cabernet Franc more suitable in Washington than California. 

Given the fruit forward flavors (raspberry, blueberry) and softer tannins, with the herbal characteristics not too overt, the Cabernet Franc grape can be made in a wide range of styles. Here's the range of wines that are in the March issue.

In red wines, there are two distinct styles, although there can be ranges in between: the "BDX" style which even though Cabernet Franc is not a predominate Bordeaux variety. Examples in the March issue are the 2016 Bergevin Lane "Paco Franco" (with 10% Merlot), the 2017 Browne Family Vineyards, and the Owen Roe "Rosa Mystica." Then there are those made in the manner of a medium bodied Loire Cabernet Franc such as a Chinon. One example is the 2018 Tamarack Cellars. The Hard Row to Hoe Whole Picture line has reds in both styles, a 2019 from the Glacial Gravels Vineyard, fermented and aged in an amphora and made to be drunk young and slightly chilled, and a 2018 from the same vineyard, made in a fuller bodied, age worthy style.

Cabernet Franc can be made into white wine and rosés by drawing the juice off the skins with minimal or short contact. Basel Cellars has a 2019 Blanc de Cabernet Franc which is gold colored and attractively fruited (reviewed in the March issue). And Hard Row to Hoe has a 2020 Pét Nat, a sparkling wine made in the Méthode Ancestrale. There are two rosés in the March issue, a 2020 Cabernet Franc Rosé and the 2019 Amos Rome from Lake Chelan. 

So, this is how Cabernet Franc can be made into a variety of styles, all wonderfully expressive of the grape.