Stalwart with a dark, briary soul, the cold-hardy cabernet franc is our ticket to ride for robust vin rouge here in Northern Michigan. Cabernet franc, the grape grandpappy of cabernet sauvignon, pulls its dual provenance from France’s Loire Valley and the right bank of the Gironde in Bordeaux, where it lends those mighty Chinons and clarets undercurrents of raspberry, loam and sweet tobacco.
While lacking some of the immortal structure of its brawnier progeny, cab franc pays its bills with elegant texture and complex layers of red and black berry fruits, baking spices and savory herbal notes. We reach for reds as the bounty of late summer fields and forest reaches the season’s apex, salmon show up in the harbors, and game birds fall to the clatter of shotguns. Cabernet franc is a fine foil to rainbow ratatouille, roast grouse and spice-rubbed salmon on the grill. This month we revel in several that grace local tasting rooms and wine shops.
2007 Bowers Harbor Cabernet Franc ‘Erica Vineyard’
Undoubtedly powerhouse, this single vineyard estate-grown effort from the Bowers cartel shows loads of dark fruit, cocoa and spice from its long tenure in barrel.
2007 Peninsula Cellars Cabernet Franc
Black plum, licorice and mint frame a rich, persistent structure in this late release of the landmark 2007 vintage.
2008 Two Lads Cabernet Franc
The Lads go to bat with an elegant incarnation of the balanced 2008 vintage. Clove, raspberry and kisses of oak kept alive with great acidity and supple tannins.
2008 Forty-Five North Cabernet Franc Reserve
Plummy and yummy with saturated color, impressive structure and hints of cigar wrapper. You will want some thick-cut chops, wild mushrooms and several hours to linger over them.
2008 Brys Estate Cabernet Franc
Look for this upcoming release from the magic hand of Coenraad Staasen that shows the purity of fruit and attention to detail that defines the Brys style.