Wine of the week: Lang & Reed 2010 North Coast Cabernet Franc

Cabernet franc is eclectic, and that's its charm.

"It's an amazingly versatile wine at the table, playing as part of the ensemble instead of being a dominant soloist," said John Skupny of Lang & Reed Wine Company in St. Helena.

Skupny is the co-vintner/winemaker behind our wine-of-the-week winner, the Lang & Reed, 2010 North Coast Cabernet Franc at $24.

What happens behind the scenes to make it a standout?

"It's likely our long-sustaining passion and singular focus on the cabernet franc grape, that combined with two decades of working with great grape growers that provide us with fruit that is attuned to the style of wine we like to make," Skupny said. "Remember, we only make wine from cabernet franc."

The Lang & Reed cab franc has broad appeal with a diverse range of restaurateurs.

"The more delicate tannins of cabernet franc and its slight herbaceous nature have landed us on menus as diverse as Asian fusion to classic French bistro fare," Skupny said. "The match with goat cheese and rillettes is legendary."

Skupny said yet another attraction is the effusive perfume of the variety.

"It's one of the few truly aromatic red grapes," Skupny said. "Women are more apt to pick up on that fact."

Before co-founding Lang & Reed with his wife, Tracey, in 1996, Skupny worked at various wineries, including Napa Valley's Caymus Vineyards, Clos du Val Wine Co. and Niebaum-Coppola Estate Winery, renamed Inglenook in 2011.

"Respect-wise, cabernet franc is sort of the Rodney Dangerfield of the varietal set," Skupny said.

"We seek people (distributors, fine wine retailers and sommeliers) who share our interest and passion in cabernet franc to help us to introduce it to wine lovers who are willing to try new or different wines."

Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at 707-479-3880 or

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