Cabernet franc is a sleeper grape, relatively unknown but often far more charming in the glass than its superstar offspring, the brash, bold cabernet sauvignon. Even when young, cabernet franc is fragrant, tart and soft in tannins, but it delivers quite a flavor punch, suggestive of red fruits, herbs and subtle spices. The grape thrives in moderately cool climates and is incredibly versatile with food. The following three examples are delicious.
Château du Coudray Montpensier Le Grand Bouqueteau, Chinon, 2014
This Loire Valley winner is a startling purple hue. Supple and juicy, it’s full of bright, rich cherry and raspberry fruit, with undertones of spices, smoke, black olive and licorice. It’s an artisan wine, made from low-yield hand-picked grapevines. Most cabernet francs leave the palate craving savory dishes, and this pick is no different. It’s terrific with grilled herb-rubbed chicken.
$14, Lower Falls Wine Co., Newton
Domaine de La Noblaie Les Chiens-Chiens, Chinon, 2012
Another Chinon pick, this wine has a distinctive meat-like aroma, with ripe berry, tobacco, violet and dried green herb accents. It’s an earthy cabernet franc with concentrated, juicy fruit and intense acids. Luscious and savory, its lingering umami flavor makes an ideal accompaniment to vegetarian dishes, such as grilled eggplant or anything dressed with a salty, savory tapenade.
$19, Giles Wine & Spirits, Woburn
Ravines Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes, 2013
From New York’s Finger Lake region, this wine is stylistically close to the Loire Valley originals. It shows classic European aromatic subtlety with notes of ripe red raspberry, bay leaf and white pepper and a tangy minerality. Soft in texture, crisp and tart, it’s a fruity wine with grace notes of dill, thyme, wildflowers and green olive. Enjoy this with a slightly oily fish.
$22, The Urban Grape, Boston
Sandy Block is a master of wine and the vice president of beverage operations for Legal Sea Foods.