You probably have not heard of Blanc de Cab Franc. It is made in small quantities in the Loire Valley and now in Oregon. Leah Jørgensen decided to make Oregon’s first Blanc de Cabernet Franc back in 2011. Leah tells us how it happened.
How Blanc de Cab Franc came to Oregon
“I was working at Shea Wine Cellars as a cellar worker and I knew I wanted to get my little project started. So my friend Chris Berg who owns Roots Wine Company with his wife Hillary is like “Hey I can get you a little cab franc”. It was from Walla Walla. I was like “Yeah I just need 750 lbs. “ No problem. So I got this cab franc and I was like “I’m going to make a white cab franc” I had one from the Loire Valley.
I used to sell an incredible book of Loire Wines in Washington DC before I moved out here and one of my accounts was the French Embassy. Because embassies in DC can’t go through their own countries, they have to, like everybody else, go through distribution. So I had the Austrian Embassy, the New Zealand Embassy, the French Embassy, was that it? Anyways, so I remember was at a tasting there and I had a white cab franc from the Loire. They are very rare, there’s very very few producers over there that actually make a white cab franc. But it was always in the back of my mind. I also love the sparkling wines from the Loire Valley. And many of them if they are white they have a base of cab franc often blended with chenin blanc or chardonnay or they make a rosé and I love those base wines as well.
Here in the Willamette Valley, so many producers of pinot noir are taking that cue from Champagne and they are of course making wonderful sparkling wines. You’re seeing more and more wonderful sparkling wines come out here, but they are also making white pinot noir. So to me it made sense, I’m going to do America’s first white cab franc. So that’s what I did. That was 2011 and I had one barrel, it was an oak barrel. Now I use exclusively Acacia. So you get all kinds of the bell pepper, it’s more poblano to me.”
Tastings and Pairings
The wine has a savoriness to it, and yes, that essence of poblano pepper. Leah says it goes well with roasted poblano with a cream sauce and roast chicken.
“I mean, honestly this wine, when you get it on the palate it still has so much acidity, it get’s macadamia, it kinda goes all over from fruity to herbal to nutty. But it still goes so beautifully with scallops and shellfish, but then like pork chops with apple compote, some strange little Germanic, that direction.”
Descriptions and suggestions from her website: this medium-bodied wine typically has delicate nuances of “early blush” apricot, golden raspberries, Meyer lemon, blood orange, white tea leaf, tarragon, and hazelnut – making up a pretty, complex white wine from red grapes.
This vintage, the wine also offers subtle botanical notes of elderflower, jasmine, lime blossom, sweet pea shoot, even a hint of ground cinnamon, with flavors of clementine, lemon meringue, light honey leading into a creamy and nutty mid-palate that finishes with refreshing salinity.
Drink now for freshness, but this wine will age in the bottle for a minimum of five years, due to the phenolic content from the red skins.
Pair with white fish or shellfish, especially oysters and scallops; pasta with simple cream sauce; pork chops with apple compote; roasted chicken; crab stuffed poblano peppers with cream sauce; polenta and beans; a young, creamy, nutty Gruyère.
The fact that this is a white wine made from a red grape in the white wine style is part of the reason that it is included in the “Uncommon Wine Festival”. This is the wine you want for a brown bag tasting with friends. It is sure to stump and intrigue everyone.
The source of the Cab Franc – Mae’s Vineyard
The grapes for the 2017 no longer come from Walla Walla. They are from Mae’s Vineyard in the Applegate Valley, farmed by Herb Quady of Quady North. The vineyard was named Herb’s daughter Margaux Mae. The vineyard is “LIVE” certified sustainable.
Leah’s site gives you some more geeky details on the vineyard (love that)
” Planted in 2006, the vines are trained on a “V” type trellis that splits the canopy, allowing for lots of leaf area and diffracted light. The vineyard is planted 45 degrees to the east of North, giving more even light exposure during high summer, with south-southeast exposure.
The soil series is “Manita”, gravelly loam, granitic with red/yellow dirt. The Cabernet Franc clone is 214 on 3309 root stock.”
Want to find a bottle? Head to Leah Jørgensen Cellars squarespace or look for one of the smart establishments that carry her wine. There is a list here.
We are going to continue our chat with Leah Jørgensen. Next up is her Rosé of Cabernet Franc! And check out our previous episodes with her Leah Jørgensen – Pirate Princess & Winemaker, Grapes of Southern Oregon with Leah Jørgensen and
Check out Leah’s updated website at https://leahjorgensencellars.com/
You can find her on on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram too!
And join us back here at Crushed Grape Chronicles as we continue sharing our conversation with Leah! And don’t forget, you can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
We certainly enjoy Cab Franc but have yet to try Blanc de Cab Franc. We’re seeing white Pinot a lot more but haven’t even come across blanc de Cab Franc. But, our curiosity is definitely piqued and we’ll be on the hunt.
If you come across a bottle of Leah’s wine pick it up. The Blanc de Cab Franc is unique and amazing, but all of her wines are really good.
You’re right. I had no heard of Blanc de Cab Franc – and I even live in France! But then, I’m not much of a white wine drinker. The name alone is sort of blowing my mind because Cab Franc is a red wine grape I know well from living in Bordeaux. Definitely interested to try it, but looks like I’ll have to shop for a Loire Valley one until I can get back to the US and try some from Oregon.
If you do find one from the Loire I look forward to hearing your thoughts! She told me they are rare even there.