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Honey-Lemon-Sesame Drizzled Plancha'd Veggies + Garzón 2018 Reserva Cabernet Franc #WinePW

The month, the Wine Pairing Weekend bloggers are looking at Cabernet Franc Around the World with Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm leading the discussion. You can read her invitation here

If you are reading this soon enough, feel free to join the Wine Pairing Weekend live Twitter chat on Saturday, December 12th at 8am Pacific. Just follow the hashtag #WinePW and be sure to add that to anything you post so we can see your tweets. In the meantime, all of these will go live before Saturday morning.

Cabernet Franc
I'll be frank: Cabernet Franc isn't a variety that usually grabs me. I don't know why. I have done entire dinners around it and I try to like it! I really, really do. Back in 2016, this was my menu and wine pairing...

Cab Franc-Friendly Cheese Plate: Port Salut + Gorgonzola
Grilled Baguette and Warmed Olives
paired with Maquis Cabernet Franc 2012
Cabernet Franc from Colchagua Valley, Rapel Valley, Chile

Coffee-Rubbed Prime Rib
Cast Iron-Seared Pork Chops
Pickled Apples
paired with Raats Cabernet Franc 2012
Cabernet Franc from South Africa

Cab Franc Brownies with Drunken Cranberries
Brown Butter Pecan Pie with Espresso Dates
paired with Lang & Reed Cabernet Franc 2013
Cabernet Franc from North Coast, California

I cooked, I poured, and I paired three different Cab Francs from three different regions. None were particularly stunning. Six adults eating and tasting and none were winners. 

have enjoyed Apple-Braised Duck Legs + Dracaena's Cab Franc. And, Jake and I paired Steak au Poivre et Thé + Martian Radiant Cabernet Franc 2014 to great success. So while there are grape varieties that are always a hit with me no matter where it's made, Cab Franc is one that I find more finicky. Or, perhaps, it's more accurate to say that I am more finicky about it. Oh, well. I'll just keep trying. Life is rough for a food and wine blogger, right?

During another wine group chat, David of Cooking Chat and I connected on Good Reads and I found this title on his virtual bookshelf - Godforsaken Grapes: A Slightly Tipsy Journey through the World of Strange, Obscure, and Underappreciated Wine by Jason Wilson. I was immediately intrigued and ordered up a copy for myself. I did enjoy these passages about Cabernet Franc:

"For years, I've thought, if you are becoming more adventurous in your wine drinking, if you're curious to explore beyond plump, ripe, and oaky, if you like eating and drinking food and wine together at the same time...well then you really should be drinking more cabernet franc. ...Why cabernet franc remains so unpopular in the United States, however, has perplexed me. Just like cabernet sauvignon and merlot, it's one [of] the official grapes of Bordeaux blends. In fact, cabernet franc is the parent of cabernet sauvignon, so its origin is even more ancient. Ampelographers consider it to be a so-called 'founder' grape" (pg. 24).

"An appreciation of savory wines is slowly spreading among young wine drinkers. Maybe cabernet franc isn't a wine that finance bros, neckties thrown over their shoulders, will expense at a steakhouse. But if you haven't been paying attention, here's a news flash: People are eating fewer warm-blooded animals these days, and so wines have to pair with dishes besides medium rare meat. ...Perhaps surprisingly, a wine with notes of pencil shavings nd olive match really well with foods we actually eat these days" (pg. 25).

Earlier this month I took part in the 2020 #CabFrancDay and received a sample from Shale Canyon Wines here in Carmel. You can read about my Socially-Responsible Birthday Lasagna + 2015 Shale CanyonCabernet Franc. But, for this event, I am sharing a Cabernet Franc from Uruguay.

In the Glass

Ever since this group looked at the wines from Uruguay back in February 2019 - read my post Brined Quail with a Numbered Bottle of Tannat - I have kept my eyes open for wines from Uruguay. So, when I came across the  Garzón 2018 Reserva Cabernet Franc, I knew I wanted to open it for this month's event.

Bodega Garzón is located in a charming region of Uruguay, where sloping hills meet the sea. The small town has a population of just over 500 and is rife with farmers and artists. Sounds like somewhere I'd love to visit. Maybe one of these days when the world opens back up. Though as this post goes live, Monterey County is preparing to lockdown once again this weekend...for, at least, a month. That will get us through the holidays since people can't seem to manage common sense to stay home on their own.

Through my research I discovered that most Uruguayan farms are small, averaging only about five hectares, and are family-run, staying in one family for multiple generations. What I loved even more than that is that this small agricultural country has never implemented large-scale chemical fertilizers or insecticides. In fact, in their thriving meat industry, growth hormones have been banned since 1968 and, today, all Uruguayan beef is organic and grass-fed.

This bottle displayed what I learned, during the #CabFrancDay chat, was called Pyrazines. I have been writing those as 'vegetal notes.' 'Pyrazines' sounds much more erudite. Ha.

In the glass this wine poured a vibrant inky with purple highlights on the run. On the nose there were notes of ripe bell peppers along with more subtle undertones of coffee and smoke. On the palate there were herbaceous flavors mixed with ripe black fruit.

On the Plate

The 2018 Garzón Reserva Cabernet Franc was a nicely textured and lively wine. To complement the earthiness, I opted to pour the wine with some plancha'd vegetables, including meaty mushrooms, sweet onions, squash, and peppers. 

You can just grill, or cook on the plancha, whatever vegetables you have in your bin. The real highlight of this dinner is the honey-lemon-sesame drizzle. It's super simple and I use it all the time on everything from vegetables to roasted chicken.

  • 2 small organic lemons
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds, divided
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup torn basil leaves

Juice lemon into a small mixing bowl. Pulp is okay, but pluck any seeds out of the bowl. Stir in 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, shallots, honey, sesame oil, and olive oil. Whisk to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 To serve, place vegetables on your serving plate. Top with hand-torn basil leaves. Drizzle with the honey-lemon-sesame mixture. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

That's a wrap on our December Wine Pairing Weekend event about Cabernet Franc. Next month, I will be hosting the group as we explore Saké & Other Pairings for Asian Foods. Stay tuned for the invitation for that event.


  1. From Uruguay?! How cool. And your plating is gorgeous.

    1. Thanks, Andrea! Yes...from Uruguay. It was delicious.

  2. Hey Cam, I was underwhelmed by my tasting, the first night. the second night the wines were spectacular. I have heard that Cabernet Franc needs time to decant (I'm terrible at decanting). Perhaps that explains your less than thrilling impression with your ealier tasting?
    Garzon makes spectacular wines and is really putting Uruguay on the wine map!
    This dish...OMG. It looks so amazing! Meatless and simple, I will need to try this.

  3. Camilla I loved your honesty and your persistence in trying Cab Franc. I also love your vegetable recipe and plating. Beautiful. I am not sure if I have tried Garzon, will look out for it.
    Cheers and happy holidays.

  4. I have tried a few of Garzon's wines but didn't know they made a Cab Franc. Looking forward to trying it. And thanks for the info on Uruguay's meat industry - had no idea it was so progressive!

  5. Very impressed that you chose Uruguayan Cab Franc to highlight for this topic. I also admire your persistence in finding one right for you.

  6. I love wines from Uruguay! This sounds fantastic!

  7. Oh,I need to look for the Garzon Cabernet Franc. I have enjoyed other Garzon wines. I do know what you mean with Cabernet Franc....I think you just need to keep trying them from different regions until you discover the one(s). Nice pairings as always!


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