The Franc brings delicious earthiness

The Franc brings delicious earthiness


Who: Cosentino Winery
What: 2013 Cabernet Franc Lodi
Where: Napa Valley
Why: Producers focus on quality, not quantity
How much: $15

My husband and I take fall or winter vacations, which can sometimes be challenging but are always interesting. It's become a tradition to spend New Year's Eve at Table Rock Lake, and we also like to visit the Seattle and Oregon coasts during October or November. One year we ended up in Long Island in the fall and had the best time. That time of year brings discounts on flights, hotel rooms and few places are busy. It's a pleasant and unhurried time to become acquainted with an area and visit extensively with locals living there. The mindset is completely different than during the summer tourist seasons. The weather on Long Island was cool, but we were still able to walk along the coast and enjoy the gorgeous scenery.

To our surprise, located up and down the coast of Long Island were more than 35 wineries, which produce 500,000 cases of premium wine annually. With under 3,000 acres being cultivated, the regional focus is on quality, not quantity. It was here we were introduced to East Coast winemakers and all they had to offer. And, we discovered our favorite wine of all time: Cabernet Franc.

Since this trip was some time ago, I can't even remember the exact vintage of Cab Franc we drank. I only know that once we arrived back in Kansas, it wasn't available here. (That's another conversation we'll have some time … don't even get me started.) But, we knew we had to have more Cab Franc and began asking for it in every restaurant or liquor store we frequented. Eventually we found an acceptable bottle called simply The Franc, produced in Napa Valley. This was slightly different than East Coast Cab Franc, but still had all the depth and spice we remembered and loved. (We're still waiting for East Coast Cabernet Francs to be available in Wichita.)

The Cabernet Franc grape is a black-skinned variety with a taste often compared to Cabernet Sauvignon. One main difference is found in the vineyard, where Cab Franc has a thinner skin with lower acidity and is known for its hardiness. It is often grown alongside Cabernet Sauvignon as an "insurance" grape.

The other difference is in taste.

Cosentino's Franc is a medium-bodied wine with great legs that coat the side of a wine glass in a perfectly formed arc. It smells of rich tobacco and spice, and once on the tongue feels silky with a strong charcoal grill taste. This is also a green wine, having hints of green pepper and deep, dark earthiness. Bringing this exquisite taste together with the right food is difficult to put into words — it's something you need to experience.

If you enjoy grilling, the charcoal taste of the Franc will only enhance the flavor, whether it's steak, fish or lamb. If mushrooms are one of your favorite foods, this wine will make them taste of forest floor earthiness. Don't overlook the greens — any food containing green peppers or olives will bring out bold flavors that are sometimes overlooked.

Can you tell I love this wine? Part of the love is popping the cork for great taste, but also reminiscing about walking the shores of Long Island. I relive the entire experience with each glass.