Cabernet Franc is the most popular red wine varietal in the Hudson Valley, and for good reason. The grape has the genetic muscle to weather the region’s terroir and varied microclimates, and its versatility in the cellar gives winemakers the freedom to craft wines in a number of different styles, or just let nature take its course.
Depending on how and where in the region it’s grown, Cabernet Franc picks up flavors that range from bright red and black berries to dark cherry, tobacco, and leather—making it a perfect match for a gamut of savory dishes. There are bottles priced for everyday and those that warrant cellaring until a special occasion. In any normal year all of this makes choosing a bottle challenging, but these days, when in-person tastings at a winery are somewhat less feasible, it can be downright difficult.
With so many stellar choices available, to help decide which bottle to uncork on #CabFrancDay (December 4th each year) — or any day — we rounded up the region’s latest releases from members of the Hudson Valley Cabernet Franc Coalition.
Here are five of the region’s best Cabernet Francs to try right now and one to look forward to in the spring, with tasting notes and links to purchase.
Millbrook Cabernet Franc 2019
Millbrook’s reputation for quality Cabernet Francs shines in this bottle of New York State-grown Cabernet Franc, harmoniously blended with Merlot (20%), and Cabernet Sauvignon (5%) to create an elegant, food-friendly wine with balanced flavors of red berry fruits and hints of violet. Complex aromas of spice and plum complete the experience.
Available: Online, at the winery, and select local retailers
Price: $25 (save 10% on a case purchase)
Fjord Estate Ridge Road Cabernet Franc 2019
Balanced and textured, this 100% estate-grown Cabernet Franc is the result of minimal intervention and spontaneous fermentation. The wine is left unfined and unfiltered, alive with notes of tobacco leaf, rhubarb and dried berries that fill the nose, followed by bright raspberries and supple tannins that surprise the palate.
Available: Online only
Benmarl Estate Cabernet Franc 2019
From Benmarl’s newest vineyard blocks comes a Cabernet Franc with deep purple and fuchsia hues, and lively aromas of dried cherries and strawberry yogurt. Early tastes suggest ripe blackberry and a hint of cardamom, with firm tannins and elevated acidity. Drink this wine young or set it down and let it evolve.
Available: Look for it in Spring 2021
Milea Estate Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2018
This polished gem is 100% Cabernet Franc from the Hudson River Region, smooth and round with a bold cherry flavor, structured tannins, and a luxurious finish. A gold medal winner, garnering a 90-point score at the Sommelier Challenge Competition, this is the wine you’ll want to match with meats, chops, and steaks, on or off the grill.
Available: Online and at the winery
Glorie Farm Winery Cabernet Franc 2019
A full-bodied estate wine that teases with aromas of blackberries, raspberries, dark plums and a hint of tobacco. Complex flavors develop on the palate as sweet tobacco, pepper and a touch of smoke combine with the distinct earthiness of Glorie Farms’ terroir. Earth and dark berry flavors continue on the finish and luxuriously linger on the palate. Only two barrels produced, so buy it now.
Available: Online and at the winery
Robibero Estate Cabernet Franc 2018
Robibero’s elegant offering is estate grown, produced, and bottled. Intense earth and bright red berry flavors mingle with classic Cab Franc spice in this rich flavored, deep-colored wine. Incredible structure, dense layers, and a lasting finish make this bottle a must for any celebration.
Available: Only at the winery
Photos: Courtesy of the wineries