When people think of American wines, they often think of wines from California, Washington, or Oregon. While these three states make out of this world wine, I’m just waiting for the day that Virginia gets the same recognition because Virginia knows how to make some really good wine. One perfect example of a grape that Virginia knows how to make particularly well is Cabernet Franc.

Cabernet Franc (“Cab Franc”) originated in France. While it can be found as an individual varietal, it is most often used in blends. Some examples of blends where it can be found are Bordeaux Blends, Meritage, and Super Tuscans. Cabernet Franc is extremely versatile. When used individually and not in a blend, it is one of the prime examples of how wine tasting is a cycle of the senses. Cab Franc is a medium-bodied wine, often ruby in color, that has immense, spicy aromas but tame, fruity tastes. It goes does smooth, with a little bit of oaky, tannic bite. Common flavors found in Cabernet Francs, particularly in ones originating from Virginia, are plum, pepper, clove, blackberry, and violet. Sight, taste, smell, and touch are all harmonized. The medium body make this an ideal food pairing wine. Medium body means that you can pair it with about any texture of food. Spicy, oaky, and fruity flavors mean that you can pair it with heavy red meats, light poultry, or veggie stews. So many possibilities! One of the reasons why Virginia can grow this grape so well is due to its hot/humid climate.

Tonight, I made a faux casserole-type dish. It was the Skillet Chicken and Broccoli Veggie Tot Pie by Skinnytaste. The three main ingredients in this dish are shredded chicken, broccoli, and broccoli/cheddar tots that you can get in the freezer section of your grocery store. The spices in this dish include parsley and thyme. There are so many savory and herbaceous flavors. A broth and flour base provide a creamy texture without the use of any cream. I wanted a wine that wasn’t too heavy that it would drown out the herbs, but one not too light that the creamy texture would overpower. Cab Franc, or a blend with this grape, would provide a balanced body for the dish as well as balanced flavors.

Skillet Chicken and Broccoli Veggie Tot Pie by Skinnytaste
When it came out of the oven
Cutting into it

After visiting King Family Vineyards a few months ago, I remembered that I bought their Cabernet Franc. Looking back at my notes, I was startled at how powerful the flavors were for its light body. On the nose, there were aromas of spice, wood, violet, and what seemed to me like tea. When tasting, it was full of plum and red cherries. Upon drinking this again, it was just as smooth as I remembered. It was perfect for the brisk, rainy, spring day we were having. It was light enough to drink as a pre dinner “snack,” but would also be a great a dinner pairing. This wine seemed a bit lighter to me than most Cab Francs, so I don’t know that I would pair it with a red meat, but it would work with poultry, pork, or tofu.

This pairing was quite delicious. The rounded fruit flavors went very well with the thyme and parsley in the meal. Since the chicken from the meal was not flavored, all of the oaky (vanilla and cinnamon) flavors came through from the wine. The light texture of the wine made the flour/broth base appear creamy. Because of this “cream” texture, the floral and tea-like flavors were enhanced. The only (minor) setback was that the spicy characteristics were brought out a bit too much by the meal, creating a zing that could be annoying to some. I loved this wine so much that I didn’t care. Everything else went so well! 4 grapes!

Questions for you: Comment below!

  1. Have you ever had Cabernet Franc as a single varietal?
  2. What is your favorite Virginia wine?

Recipe: Skillet Chicken and Broccoli Veggie Tot Pie by SkinnyTaste

Wine: King Family Vineyards Cabernet Franc (bought @ Vineyard, $25)

Sources: Wine Folly, Virginia Wine

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