Cab Franc & Others: What the Barrel Can Do
If you’ve ever wondered about all those grape varietals lining the “Alternative Reds” shelves, there is one in particular that provides an interesting charm, Cab Franc. Note that most of the time this red is employed as a mixing component for Bordeaux-style red wines and is not available separately.
But, after blending, there is often Cab Franc (and others) left over. There are wineries that offer these as a special bottling in pure form. This makes it often a seasonal offering, like a Bock beer or other special bottling. There are also many wineries that like to play games with Cab Franc during aging just to change them up a bit.
While enjoying a bottle of Hook & Ladder Cab Franc at the Hillside Restaurant recently, I could not help but notice a flavor component that was very much like Bourbon! Yes, it was there in the wine, a distinct cherry-vanilla character that comes through in a top-shelf Bourbon and water cocktail. After doing a little checking, it turns out that Hook and Ladder does NOT use whiskey barrels to age their wine, just regular wine barrels. The flavor comes forward on its own.
However, there are wineries that do the aging process in whiskey barrels and blend that with wine aged in regular wine barrels, just to make the flavor interesting. One of these wineries is 1000 Stories. While they don’t do a Cab Franc, they do sell a Carignan that is actually aged in whiskey barrels. This may be an interesting tasting experience, especially since Carignan, like Cab Franc is often used as structure blending varietal and tends to pickup barrel flavors more readily.
Another one to try is the Consentino’s “The Franc”. Nearly every one of their vintages picks up a distinctive cedar bouquet and flavor that surely comes from the barrel aging process.
Wines of this distinctive character always make for an interesting pairing experience with the mellow nuances of pronounced barrel-aging flavors going well with game, salmon, and ham. They also are perfect to take along camping because they go so well with all kinds of outdoor cooking.