8 Great Cab Francs to Try

photo of 8 bottles of Hudson Valley Cabernet Franc wines

We’d highly encourage you to grab any Hudson Valley Cabernet Franc you can get your mitts on because, as with any small wine region, the quantities are limited. What follows are notes from the results of Hudson Valley Wine Magazine’s in-house tasting of nearly 20 from the region. These were a few of the group’s faves:


ROBIBERO 2013 CABERNET FRANC

The label says “New York State,” which might trick you into thinking that this solid offering from winemaker Kristop Brown and assistant winemaker/owner Ryan Selby is an amalgam of grapes from myriad New York AVAs; it’s decidedly not. This is 100% estate grown Cab Franc—the first made entirely from Robibero’s own fruit, as a matter of fact. The rich, dense, dark fruit here shows the influence of the 2013 vintage with ripe, concentrated notes of blackberry, black plum, raspberry and cocoa.

“Earthy, full-bodied and ageable.”

There’s a brawny quality to this wine that makes us excited to see more from Robibero as the vines age (and this wine does, too). The finish is all pepper, spice, and smacking tannins. Only 30 cases were made. Drink now or, better yet, hang on to this one. It’s got the stuffing to cellar. $60


BENMARL WINERY 2012 CABERNET FRANC
RIDGE ROAD ESTATE | Hudson River Region

This outstanding offering from winemaker Matthew Spacarelli shows his trademark restraint and trust in Benmarl’s good fruit. Deep, rich ruby in color, the nose on the 2012 starts out a little reluctant, but give it a minute and it will reward you with pretty notes of flowers and dried raspberry, with an undercurrent of wild cedar and pomegranate. On the palate, this wine is alive—nervous and energetic with tart, bright fruit and a finish of baking spice and black pepper. $25

“Elegant! A fine example of Hudson Valley terroir.”


WHITECLIFF VINEYARD 2012 CABERNET FRANC
Hudson River Region

There’s something about the 2012 vintage that yielded the perfect spot between bright and brooding; Whitecliff’s, made by winemaker Brad Martz, is a special one, indeed. It’s clear, medium-ruby hue belies the rich, ripe red-plum fruit and flowers on the nose. In your mouth, things get even more interesting: this juicy, nicely balanced wine yields notes of ripe plum, blackberry, tea, and a hum of minerality. And Martz’s constant work over the years finding the right barrel program (he’s partial to Hungarian) is well-integrated, adding structure and spice but not overwhelming the beauty of the fruit. $23


WHITECLIFF VINEYARD 2013 CABERNET FRANC
Hudson River Region

The warm, dry 2013 vintage shows itself in dense, darker notes, and that’s thoroughly, beautifully apparent here in Martz’s offering, rife with juicy red plums, blackberry, and dried flowers. The nice, grippy structure here creates a gorgeous foundation to hold all that pretty fruit on the palate, along with notes of black pepper, tea, and streamlined minerality. A keeper that can be enjoyed now and revisited over time. $23

“Well-made wine with a very enjoyable finish.”


FJORD VINEYARDS 2014 CABERNET FRANC
Hudson River Region

This is the first vintage of Spaccarelli’s own label, Fjord, although the grapes for now come from the same vineyards as his family’s Benmarl label, for which he is also winemaker and general manager. But passion finds a place for all exciting projects, and here Spaccarelli teases out bright, bursting notes of summer raspberry, strawberry, spice, and dried, sweet herbs. That alert, zippy quality in the Benmarl label is here, too, but the 2014 has a juicy, charming, lip-smacking personality that makes this wine disappear like a wave in the river. $25

Good fruit with tingly tannins!”


GLORIE FARM WINERY 2014 CABERNET FRANC
Hudson River Region

The nose is like a late-spring hike in the Shawangunk Ridge, with notes of white pine, cedar, and a little cocoa. On the palate, this complex Cab Franc offers up blackberry, green peppercorns, licorice, and sweet tannins, with a sticky, mouth-watering finish of mixed-berries and tea. $19

“Lighter style with a good expression of fruit and crunchy acid.”


MILLBROOK VINEYARDS & WINERY 2013 CABERNET FRANC
New York State

Millbrook, who has the most Cab Franc in the ground of any Hudson River Valley winery, saw the potential for this grape early on, and that strong evidence is contained beautifully in this deep, saturated ruby-hued sipper, which also contains about 25% Long Island merlot. Rich, ripe, juicy blackberry notes morph into strawberry, raspberry and black pepper on the palate. This is a brawny, rich Franc that, given some well-deserved time in your cellar, will grow into itself and its tight, tangy tannins. At the price, buy a case and have fun revisiting this one over the next decade or so. $20

“A nice balance of fruit and wood. Lovely.”


One to Watch:

NOSTRANO VINEYARDS 2014 ESTATE CABERNET FRANC
Hudson River Region

For generations, the Trapani family has farmed the fertile lands of the Hudson Valley; you might say fourth-generation farmer and winemaker, Nicholas Bozzo (great grandson of founder, Joseph Trapani) has vines in his veins. The winery was established in 2014, so the estate fruit of that labor is just beginning to make its debut. We were pretty excited about the potential we saw in Bozzo’s 2014 Cabernet Franc. Although this wine possesses a little bit of the greenness that growers are working to cast out, the bones are here: clean, beautiful, bright fruit that leads to notes of strawberry and tea. A solid early effort from Bozzo—we are very much looking forward to see what this winemaker can do down the line!

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1 Comment

  1. […] To kick off the Coalition’s long list of initiatives, Hudson Valley Wine Magazine sponsored a blind tasting of close to 20 Cabernet Franc wines from producers around the region. The setting for this benchmark tasting was the Gazebo Room at the lushly renovated Best Western Plus in Historic Uptown Kingston, NY, with a distinguished panel of wine experts (clockwise from top right): Steven Kolpan, author and Professor of Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute at Hyde Park, NY; wine writer and educator Wendy Crispell; Hudson Valley Wine Goddess Debbie Gioquindo, organizer of the Hudson Valley Wine and Spirits Competition; and wine and spirits writer/author Amy Zavatto (not shown). The identities of the wines were not revealed to the tasters until the last wine was reviewed. For results, read 8 Cab Francs to Try. […]


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