This summer I had the privilege of visiting the outstanding winery, Phantom Creek Estates. This audacious and impressive property is in Oliver, BC and the tasting room stands atop a hill providing majestic, sweeping views of some vineyards they cultivate. While I was there, I had the chance to walk through the property with the Hospitality Manager, Seamus Kennedy where they grow grapes including Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and more! He graciously agreed to film a short video for us, showing how Phantom Creek Estates makes their delicious red wines, once the grapes enter the wine-making facility.
Exploring the Cabernet Franc Varietal
In celebration of Cabernet Franc Day on December 4th let’s take a deeper dive into one of the major black grape varietals and the region it’s grown in. The methodology for making wine has always had some mysterious vibes. People talk in hushed overtones of sacred ground, or “terroir” as the French call their precious earth, which has been proven to vary from one foot to the next in soil content. This variance can cause distinct flavor and aroma differences that are most prevalent in Burgundy where multiple producers can occasionally be found in the same single row of vines. In the other world-famous area of France, Bordeaux, wineries are located on two sides of the Garonne River, which unites with the Dordogne River 16 miles north of Bordeaux to form the Gironde estuary. Left Bank wines, which refer to the area west of the river, refers to the wines typically made using a majority blend of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, and wines to the right side of the river are Merlot forward wines.
There are several key blending grapes used throughout Bordeaux and the most commonly used grapes are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, and lesser-used grapes, but still permitted are Petit Verdot, Malbec & Carmenere. Each of these grapes can be made as a single grape varietal, and indeed grow exceptionally well in certain areas of the world. One of my favorites is Cabernet Franc which is grown successfully in the USA, Chile, Canada, and the Loire Valley. Cab Francs can age up to 15 years with a firm tannic structure. In cool climate regions, red berry notes are more prevalent than warmer climates where you would find riper fruit and herbaceous notes, with spicy aromas and high levels of acidity, which balance out the tannins and fruit.
This grape varietal is often overlooked but offers a complex profile that is definitely worth exploring! Check out our Adventurer 2 pack and Best of BC Reds Occasion pack to further explore the depths of Cabernet Franc.
Allen Ingram is the founder of myWinegenie Applications Ltd. and pairedclub.com and is a professional chef, as well as a Sommelier. His passion for the world’s best wine and food pairings has taken him all over the world for business and pleasure.