by Fred McMillin
for April 29, 1998

Francly Speaking


All the better red wines of the Loire are made from Cabernet Franc, where it is the most planted variety (around 25,000 acres).

...Andre Simon; Jancis Robinson

In Bordeaux's St. Emilion some of the greatest growths, such as Chateau Ausone, are made from 50% or more Cabernet Franc.

...Larousse Encyclopedia of Wine

Some New World regions have shown a particular aptitude for producing well-balanced, fruity wines based predominantly on Cabernet Franc.

...Oxford Companion to Wine

The Rest of the Story

If wine laboratory owner/chemist Edgar Coulson has his way, California's Sierra Foothills will become one of those Franc-friendly New World regions. An Oregon State University chemical engineer, Edgar was a serious home winemaker for 14 years, winning non-commercial awards in the most difficult California competitions, including the California State Fair.

Having added U.C.-Davis wine science courses to his background, Edgar went commercial in 1995. He's now the CEO and winemaker of the Coulson Winery, having taken over a small, 25-year-old El Dorado winery. His current wines include what else but 124 cases of Cabernet Franc... Pasteur Red yeast...French oak...appropriately made in a Bordeaux style. Many of my students seek hand-tooled, boutique wines. Here's exactly what they're after.

The Wine

1996 Cabernet Franc (100%), Sierra Foothills
Coulson El Dorado Winery, Camino, CA, Ph.(916) 644-2854
Alcohol Content—13.2%
Food Affinities—A French grape makes a wine sturdy enough for prime rib and robust Italian food...partly because this red is unfined and unfiltered.
Price—A good value at $15


There may be a good reason that Cabernet Franc makes the best red on the Loire. It's been there a long time. Over 350 years ago, France's great statesman, Cardinal Richelieu, selected the Franc for planting at a Loire abbey by one Abbot Breton, which is still the name of the Franc in that area today.  

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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