Pepper Steak may have finally found her match in this bad boy from the wild west of wine. The Cabernet Franc from the J. Bookwalter winery has guns and a knife that cuts the steak just fine.
What is Cabernet Franc?
Let’s be clear. Not all Francs are so bold.
Cabernet Franc is primarily known as a blending grape for Bordeaux wines (along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec) and is the original Cabernet to Cabernet Sauvignon.
As a parent to the boisterous Cab Sauv, it is usually a bit a softer, more reserved, and lighter in color. It’s not supposed to come out and say hi right away, and a minority of winemakers will give it a starring role.
A French Cabernet Franc that exhibits those subtler qualities would make a fitting companion with vegetarian food with such as a spring pasta primavera or eggplant roulade with a fresh tomato basil sauce.
Cabernet Franc from Washington state
Washington wines, however, are robust, sturdy, and fruit forward. Long sunshine-y days out in the Pacific Northwest, rival California but with cooler and wetter winters.
Columbia Valley where the J. Bookwalter cabernet franc comes from sometimes has harsh winters. The grape has a relatively thick skin (although thinner than a cabernet sauvignon) that can survive the cold.
The skin also lends structure with soft tannins that make it a favorite grape to grow by many Washington winemakers.
J. Bookwalter 2015 Suspense wine ($60)
Cabernet Franc may blend into a crowd easily, but the J Bookwalter Suspense has muscle and heft that can stand next to a Cabernet Sauvignon in a tasting.
Comprised of 83% hand harvested cabernet franc, it is smooth and suave, with a dash of old spice dabbed on and some merlot that makes up the remaining 17% of the wine.
According to the winery, the 2015 vintage “was hot and dry, like 2007, from late spring through to final days of harvest. Due to the early flowering and a hot June, vines produced tiny grapes.
The small crop ripened early in the Fall with a high skin-to-juice ratio yielding black-colored wines dense with richness and tannin.”
Fruit in a bottle
Luscious dark fruit of purple plum, blackberry, and juicy bing cherries sing the fruit forward anthem Washington wines are known for, while hints of black pepper and vegetal earthiness express the signature characteristics of the grape itself.
Bigger than most other bottles
The bottle is even big. Do you see how big it is? It stands taller than the average wine bottle with burly shoulders that uncannily express 14.8% alcohol and boldness that make this cabernet franc stand apart from similarly named bottles.
Pair Cabernet Franc with Pepper Steak
This Washington Cabernet Franc from J. Bookwalter has Western cowboy boots on. Giant, step on your feet, get out of my way, “I’m here,” it says.
If he could talk, he might say something like, “I don’t go with chopped up bits of beef. I’m a large man and need a whole steak to myself. Don’t worry, I brought a knife to this gun fight, so I can cut it myself.”
Tame those red tannins with Chinese pepper steak. But don’t chop it up into bits before cooking. Allow yourself the pleasure of carving meat at the table while sipping your new bestie, cab franc.
The red meat matches the tannins in the wine, while the black pepper and bell pepper pick up the spice and herbaceous notes in the wine.
Do you love taking swigs of cabernet franc? Please spread the Asian ♥ and share!