2018 Cabernet Franc "Bright Fortune" --- 90pts Jeb Dunnuck90pts Antonio Galloni
Camp 4, Happy Canyon
Years ago I thought Cabernet Franc’s future was beyond bright. In fact, I thought Cab Franc was going to become Santa Barbara County’s next “it grape”. Then, inexplicably, until we learned it was due to the variety’s hyper-sensitivity to viruses, one vineyard after the next started to die, ushering me into a 20 year hiatus from the grape. Throughout most of these two decades, I assumed that I would never again make another Cab Franc. Then, finally, a few brave Santa Ynez Valley growers decided to clean up their plant materials, thereby giving Cabernet Franc a new lease on life, and providing me with the beacon that illuminated all of the potential and bright fortune that I originally predicted for this beautifully rustic variety.
Cabernet Franc is like the mischievous, atavistic brother of Cabernet Sauvignon. In Europe, it does not quite produce the more refined, noble aromas and flavors of Cabernet Sauvignon that have been the favorite of the aristocracy over the centuries. Cab Franc’s wines are more spicy and potentially more herbal. They have an earthiness that has always made them the favorite of country folk. In certain Saint-Emilion cellars like those of Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau Figeac, their Cabernet Franc based blends can carry a “world class” moniker. Personally, I like Cab Franc for its earthy mystery. After all, I am a Pinot Noir guy. Earthy/funky works for me, especially if it’s sub $100 a bottle, which most Cab Franc is, and if it goes well with lots of foods, which most Cab Francs do. To me, good Cab Franc is like the perfect wine for most of life’s journeys. It doesn’t necessarily have to be overly complicated to be really good.