Monday, August 4, 2014

Wishing for More Cab Franc

Why don't we see more Cabernet Franc? Anywhere you can get wine, you can find its more famous cousin, but Cabernet Franc is a nearly forgotten varietal. For us, that's a sad thing. It shows up in Bordeaux blends, but that doesn't show the true strength of the grape. Fortunately, winemakers--especially on the East Coast--are working with the grape.

Many wine-makers in New York work with Cabernet Franc, one of the few red grapes that thrives in cooler climates. It's seen frequently in the Finger Lakes, but some people feel that the temperatures are a bit too cool, and the wine can end up with the green vegetable flavors of an under-ripe grape. Long Island puts out some flavorful wines, so when we found a bottle from Pellegrini Vineyards at ABV on Manhattan's Upper East Side, we decided it was a safe bet.

We've found Cabernet Francs to be earthier wines, rounded out with a balance of red fruit and spice notes in the best cases. We find it a good wine for cold weather meals that are heavy on meat and root vegetables. With the restaurant's "Super Fries," the wine was a bit much, overpowering the complicated spices of the fries. With a short rib gnocchi, however, it was the perfect complement, bringing a blend of fruit, earth, and spice to the sweet and meaty sauce. On the other hand, the gnocchi with winter vegetables and mushrooms was obliterated by the wine. The Cabernet Franc definitely needed some bigger flavors to match up to it.

ABV was a good venue for us. It was a bit trendier and noisier than our usual haunts, but the waitstaff was friendly and helpful, and the wine and beer lists were interesting. Changing, seasonal, with an American bar food menu, it felt comfortable for a casual evening. We don't have much excuse to get to that neighborhood often, so we were glad when we had the chance. And it was a good excuse to order some Cabernet Franc.

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