Never Say Never: Cab Franc #WinePW

Wine Pairing Weekend Celebrates Cabernet Franc
Our blogging winemaker buddy, Lori, from Dracaena Wines just finished hosting a worldwide Cabernet Franc Appreciation day (#CabFrancDay on Twitter) and today our Wine Pairing Weekend group is continuing the celebration. There are links to all the posts further down in this post.

Never Cab Franc
Lori’s crusade is to raise the esteem of Cabernet Franc from humble blending grape to a place of honor alongside other major varietal grapes. Sad to say, I’m one of the um-converted. It’s not that I dislike Cab Franc in the star position in a wine, it’s that there are so many that I find disappointing.

Cabernet Franc is one of the two parent grapes crossed to produce Cabernet Sauvignon, so we should be thankful for that. As one of the five main grapes in red Bordeaux wines, it also ripens fully in cooler weather, so any Bordeaux fans in the crowd should be grateful, as it often saves the day there. By the numbers, I should love it. It’s very aromatic, with red fruits and possible herbal aromas of mint, violet or a touch of green pepper. Unfortunately, it’s usually lower in both acidity and tannins. When grown in a warmer climate, my experience has been abundant fruit but little acidity and just a bit flabby (my take, you may love it!).

Memaloose wine with Primo Grill on the deck

Grill weather in Minnesota!


Never Say Never
Grown in the right place, in the right hands, Cabernet Franc can be a wine of beauty all by itself. For me, that means grapes grown in a cool place, with a winegrower who isn’t afraid of allowing some of that lovely herbal aroma to shine in the finished wine. Along the Loire River in France, in the communities of Bourgeuil and Chinon are my go-to communities for Cabernet Franc. Memaloose Wines makes my favorite American Cab Franc. Memaloose is located in the Columbia Gorge AVA, with vineyards on both the Washington and Oregon sides of the Columbia River. I had the chance to walk the Idiot’s Grace vineyard in the spring a few years ago, what a beautiful place! (click on any photo to start the slideshow, escape to return)

Memaloose Wines Cabernet Franc from Idiot's Grace Vineyard

Memaloose Wines Cabernet Franc from Idiot’s Grace Vineyard

Memaloose Estate Cabernet Franc Idiot’s Grace Vineyard 2013 ($36 at the winery)
Eye: Clear, medium intensity ruby w/ a ruby edge on the cool side.
Nose: clean, medium intensity. red fruit, cranberries & tart cherries. Herby with a touch of green pepper, but just a hint.
Mouth: Medium body, medium+ acidity, low tannins. Cranberries, herbs and touch of pepper linger in a nice medium finish. Nice with flank steak, but especially nice with the roasted root vegetables we had with it.

Vineyard: Idiot’s Grace (estate) Vineyard in Mosier, OR. Certified organic.
Blend: 100% Cabernet franc
Cooperage: Aged 14 months in 2-5 year old French barrels

Food accompaniment: “Hearty Fare”, Beef, Beef Stew, Stuffed Cabbage, Game, Ham, Lamb, Rabbit, Tripe, many Cheeses
Serving Suggestion: Chill slightly before serving
When drinkable: now thru 2015

Grilled flank steak was good, but the roasted root vegetables were the stars of the food.

Grilled flank steak was good, but the roasted root vegetables were the stars of the food.

Roasted Root Vegetables and Steak Paired with Memaloose Cabernet Franc
I knew flank steak would be a good choice with the Memaloose Cab Franc, as flank steak is pretty lean, so a medium body red should balance the richness just fine. I was really aiming the roasted root vegetables as the main element in this pairing. The herbal notes in the wine seemed to add another herb into the flavors present in the veggies, a nice touch!

Flank steak, roasted root vegetables and a glass of red wine

Flank steak is nice and lean, so a lighter red light Cab Franc has sufficient structure to balance the meat.

Wine Pairing Weekend Group Declares Their Cab Franc Love

Flank Steak with Roasted Root Vegetables

This dinner can be prepared either on a grill capable of a split direct / indirect cook, or a grill set for searing a steak and an oven set to 450°F. I use a Primo Ceramic Grill, and I set the temperature just above the grate on the direct side at 450°F.


  • 1.5 lb Flank Steak
  • 4 carrots, peeled
  • 2 parsnips, peeled
  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 2 turnips, peeled
  • 8 shallots, peeled
  • 1 leek, cut on the bias (diagonal cuts across the width)
  • 8 oz. brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise
  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • Leaves from 6 sprigs of fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Sprinkle several pinches of salt and pepper on both sides of the steak, at least 1 hour before cooking.
  • Preheat the grill or oven, preheat a large cast iron skillet or a roasting pan.
  • Cut the carrots, parsnips and russet potatoes into quarters the long way, so you end up with long vegetable sticks. If any of the veggies are large, you may need to cut them into eighths.
  • Cut each turnip into eight wedges
  • Turn all the vegetables except the brussels sprouts into a large bowl. Toss the vegetables with 1.5 Tbsp of the oil and add the fresh thyme leaves.
  • Spread the vegetables evenly in the pan on the grill (indirect side) or in the oven and roast for 10 minutes
  • Add the brussels sprouts and continue roasting for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Grill the steak to your desired doneness, planning for the steak and the vegetables to finish simultaneously.  For my grill, the steak takes between 6-8 minutes for medium-rare.

Primo Go grill with flank steak and roasted root vegetables.


22 Responses to “Never Say Never: Cab Franc #WinePW”
  1. Love the idea of the vegetables with Cab Franc. Like you, I enjoy the green notes in Loire Valley CF and sometimes struggle with the lack of acidity in new world versions. I’m going to try to find a bottle of the Memaloose while I’m in NY.

  2. Your photos are so amazing! oh and I’m drooling over those veggies!!!

  3. Your dinner looks fantastic. But, I agree with you. I opened 6 bottles of Cab Franc and only really enjoyed one. Them’s not good odds.

  4. We grill in the winter too — I will have to share this recipe with my husband who is the grill master in the family! And yes, those are drool worthy photos!

  5. Never say never is a good policy with wine! Sounds like a great bottle of Cab Franc and a nice pairing.

  6. Wine sounds lovely! I love that the veggies stole the show. I am a big fan of roasted fall veggies as well. I appreciate the caramelization that takes place when the sugars heat up. Cheers.

  7. I love that you use your grill in the winter. Looks like a divine pairing and the Cab Franc sounds delicious. Cheers!

  8. You’re spot on about the flank steak being a delicious complement to Cab Franc. Well done (or should I say “medium rare”…?). I’ll have to be on the lookout for the Memaloose Cab Franc. Thanks, Jeff!

  9. Sorry you have had trouble finding winemakers expressing the red fruit, herbal notes you love. Thrilled you found one from my neck of the woods. Can I suggest another? Spangler from Umpqua Valley. It is a textbook Cab Franc and just the flavor profile you are seeking. Not much either. I think in the $20’s I wrote about it last month for #winepw

  10. Wendy Klik says:

    What a beautiful vineyard, I would stop in just because I love the name LOL

  11. Great pairing Jeff! I think the cool climate CFs are more versatile at the table. Cheers!

  12. I’m reviewing what people did last year for Cab Franc Day for this year’s — and so true about the roasted root vegetables!

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