27 Years ago I thought the future for Cabernet Franc 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 virus, one Cab Franc Vineyard after the next started to croak. For the longest time, I thought I would never make the stuff again. Recently, a few brave growers over in Santa Ynez have decided to clean up the mess by planting fresh, non-virused materials, thereby giving Frankie another go. Finally, after a 20 year hiatus in my cellar, the promise of a bright fortune for this beautifully rustic variety has re-materialized. After producing a super nice 2014 experimental version, I decided to spend some time evaluating everything, and not make a 2015. This angered Bacchus as well as a number of our wine club members who looked at me like, “What the &%$# are you thinking?” Well, disappointment be gone; the 2016 Bright Fortune is here!
Cabernet Franc is like the mischievous, atavistic brother of Cabernet Sauvignon. In Europe, Cab Franc does not produce the aristocratic aroma and flavor of Cabernet Sauvignon that has been the favorite of nobility over the centuries. Cab Franc’s wines are more spicy and potentially more herbal. They have a wildness that has always made them the favorite of country folk. In certain St. Emilion cellars like those of Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau Figeac, Cabernet Franc can ascend to a status that carries the moniker of “World Class”. Presently, the course I am on is a bit more simple. Personally, I like Cab Franc for its earthy mystery. After all, I am a Pinot Noir producer. Earthy – Funky works for me, especially if it’s not $100 a bottle and it goes well with lots of foods. To me, good Cab Franc is like the perfect wine for most of life’s journeys. It doesn’t necessarily have to be overly beautiful or complicated to be enjoyed; a lesson that probably shouldn’t have taken me two years to learn.