Wine and winter go hand in hand: it warms you up in the middle of a chilly December, it makes vivid the festive mood of the holidays, and it is a wonderful way to brighten the long, dark evenings we experience here in Southern Ontario. One wine matches the mood of December perfectly, and that is the Cabernet Franc: it's not as famous as its daughter grapes, the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Merlot, but it makes for a fresh, complex wine that complements all those traditional holiday feasts.
Red Cabernet Franc grapes, also known as Bouchy, Cabernet Franc, and Breton grapes, spring from the Bordeaux region of France. It shows up in many red blends and rose wines from the region, probably because it makes a light to medium bodied, fruity wine which complements other reds and adds herbaceous accents. Outside of France, the wines of these grapes are often appreciated in their own right for their green aroma and light touch. Here in the Niagara region, we turn these grapes into award-winning Cabernet Franc. We're particularly famous for and fond of the Cabernet Franc icewines made out of them as well. These desert wines are made by letting grapes freeze on the vine after the traditional harvest is over, picking them before dawn, and then crushing them while they are still frozen. Other grapes can be used, but Cab Francs are a Niagara Wine Country favourite.
While we only have time to talk about two wineries here, we’d love to show you the whole lot of cab franc that the region has to offer on a private, custom Niagara wine tour, including preferred stops at:
Anyone interested in the quality and uniqueness of boutique wines will want to check out this winery. Nestled deep in the gently rolling hills of the Beamsville Bench sub-appellation, Thirty Bench specializes in small batches and premium wine. Their 2015 Cabernet Franc placed in international competitions, and was undoubtedly part of why it won the 2015 Small Winery of The Year. That particular batch of Cabernet Franc is a rare treasure, difficult to find outside of the winery itself. The grapes are grown organically on the most northern section of their vineyards and lovingly hand-picked to preserve the grapes’ innate goodness. The result is award-winning wine which is rich, fruity, and fresh with notes of black fruit and caramel.
On their grounds, you will be able to experience their wines in the luxury of some truly delightful nature. Thirty Bench winery overlooks brilliantly coloured rolling hills that are covered in vines, and you even get a stunning view of Lake Ontario. They have been creating boutique wines of both the red and the white variety for 30 years now, and their winemaker, Emma Garner, is a genius when it comes to small lots of wine.
Niagara offers some wonderful icewines as well (or any of the fresh, bright wines that are made in the Four Mile Creek sub-appellation). If you feel ready for something sweeter Pond View has you covered. They have three of these dessert wines, and one is made using Cabernet Franc. They're known for its strawberry and raspberry jam notes, sweetness and high acidity literally frozen and concentrated through the icewine-making process. If you don't feel ready for icewine and want to stick with the dark Cab Francs, they still have you covered. Pondview’s more traditionally-made Cabernet Franc is a full-bodied treat with many raspberry and plum notes that fade into chocolate and licorice as you sip.
Lou Puglisi founded the Pond View Estate Winery in 1974, and it has been family owned for three generations. Their friendly, familial attitude shows in their relaxed atmosphere and charming wood and stone decor. The surrounding land is also a treat. The 50 acres of vines are lush and vibrant, readily showing why the family calls the estate Bella Terra (Beautiful Land.)
This December is a great time to experience all that Niagara made Cabernet Francs have to offer, and you can enjoy them without hesitation when you take a Niagara Wine Tour with Wheelz. Contact us today to schedule your Wheelz winery tour.
This was our first big family trip to niagra falls. Bernie knew all the best places for tastings, food and stopped along the way to show us beautiful views and told us awesome stories about historic areas. He really made the experience unique catering to exactly what each family member wanted! ( my mom wanted ice wine, dad and husband wanted whisky, and I wanted red wine). He made this day absolutely wonderful and I would highly recommend it!! Thank you Bernie!Alexandra, Texas See More