When Lori Hoyt Budd of Dracaena Wines suggested that our #winePW group (one that writes about and shares best-loved food and wine pairings once a month) celebrate Cabernet Franc Day in December, I was thrilled; I already had my wine and recipe in mind and couldn’t wait to get started. As it happens, the official day to uncork a favorite Cabernet Franc was December 4. Plenty of wine bloggers stretched the boundaries of the internet by tweeting their thoughts, tasting notes, and pictures of this beautiful wine. If you missed it, don’t worry. You have another chance.

On Saturday, December 10, the #winePW group will return to Twitter to share their admiration for not only Cabernet Franc, but for interesting recipes that are perfect for pairing. I hope you join this lively online conversation at 11am EST and use the hashtag #winePW for information and insights. I’m excited to share my pairing: 2014 Keswick Vineyard Cabernet Franc Estate Reserve and Roasted Red Pepper Soup. 

What is Cabernet Franc?

Everyone is familiar with Cabernet Sauvignon, but are you familiar with Cabernet Franc? It’s one of the most important grape varieties in the Bordeaux region of France and thought to have originated in the Basque country of Spain. For a variety of reasons, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Carmenere were confused until the late 1800s.  It now appears that Cabernet Franc is a parent of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, and Merlot thanks to in-depth historical and DNA research.

In general, Cabernet Franc thrives in soils of clay and limestone, although sandy soils are optimal if the vines aren’t water stressed. Cabernet Franc buds and matures earlier that Cabernet Sauvignon and is easier to ripen fully; small berries are produced. Compared to Cabernet Sauvignon, wine from Cabernet Franc is lighter in color, more soft, and aromatic.


cabernet franc

Photo Credit: bottlenotes.com


Where is Cabernet Franc Grown?

Cabernet Franc is grown around the world, but in France, it’s the sixth most planted red wine variety. It’s found not only in Bordeaux, but south-west France, the Languedoc, and the Loire Valley, where the grape is predominant and not only used for blending but for wine of 100% Cabernet Franc. Italy, Spain, Romania, Serbia, Hungary, the eastern Mediterranean, Chile, Argentina, and other countries produce wines from Cabernet Franc. A variety of locations in the United States are cultivating this beautiful variety, too; California, Washington, Oregon, Michigan, New York, Virginia, and even Indiana are just a few.

2014 Keswick Vineyards Cabernet Franc Estate Reserve

The wine I chose for the #winePW pairing is from Virginia.  Although only 10% (roughly) of the state’s vineyards are planted with Cabernet Franc, the grape is proving to be quite promising. In fact, the 2014 Keswick Vineyards Cabernet Franc Estate Reserve is the winner of the prestigious and coveted 2016 Governor’s Cup Award.

Representing a Bordeaux varietal, this 100% Cabernet Franc was exceptional. After aerating to tame some of the spicy qualities, intense aromas exploded with sweet spice, vibrant red fruit, green pepper, and herbs, all of which paved the path to secondary notes of black pepper and dark raspberries. On the palate, I found elegance and sophistication. The broad mouthfeel and full body more than satisfied with elements of stunning acidity, silky tannins, notes of oak, and brilliant fruit character. Flavors of dark fruit such as currant, blackberries, and cherries, black pepper, exotic herbs, violets, earth, smoke and tobacco, vanilla and caramel prompted me to relish each mesmerizing sip. Cost is $64.95.

cabernet franc

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Pairing this beautiful Cabernet Franc with a soup? Of course, it’s winter in Chicago! I loved the spice, lively acidity, and gentle tannins in the wine and felt that it would be a delightful companion with my favorite Roasted Red Pepper Soup.  And it was.

With each sip, the 2014 Keswick Vineyards Cabernet Franc Estate Reserve complemented the red pepper elements of the soup.  Likewise, the blend of spice and red pepper unveiled many of the fruit and spice qualities of this glorious wine. I can’t think of a better pairing to make any day or night more cozy and delicious.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 red bell peppers (chopped)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 24oz chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper


Step 1
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Step 2
Place the red bell pepper, onion, and garlic in the saucepan and saute for 5-10 minutes, or until tender.
Step 3
Pour in the chicken broth, stirring well, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
Step 4
Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.
Step 5
Run the soup through a strainer and return the liquid to the saucepan over medium low heat.
Step 6
Stir in the heavy cream and the ground black pepper and allow to heat through, about 5-10 minutes.
Step 7
Ladle into a soup bowl and add a dollop of sour cream and croutons on top if desired. Enjoy!

roasted red pepper soup and cabernet franc

Cheers! ~ Cindy

Check out the recipes and Cabernet Franc choices of the following participants…

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  1. Reply

    That soup looks outstanding! A perfect choice for winter in Chicago and for what sounds like an Old World expression of Cabernet Franc in the New World.

  2. Reply

    Interesting! I have almost no experience with Virginia wines. The soup looks easy and warming but I’m no fan of bell pepper –just can’t digest it well!

  3. Michelle Williams


    It has been my experience that Cab Franc does tremendously well in Virginia! Great choice.

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