It's tricky to parse the wine-making business from the wine-selling business--because, you know, there's that business part. Given many smaller producers sell much of their wine through on-site wine tasting--as opposed to hawking boxes out of box malls, say--life in the age of COVID has made that business part hard. Luckily, when the going gets hard, the hard-up come up with a clever gimmick like Francs n' Franks.
A couple of weeks ago Buttonwood Farms & Winery hosted a webinar that you got to eat and drink along with, sort of a dream Zoom (it was on FB and Yahoo live, actually). Some folks were even on site for the event, where they got treated to a BBQ of franks (sounded mostly like sausages, actually, but that ruins that fun nomenclature), a fuller tasting (four wines compared to the home two-pack), and the ability to hear the panel of winemaker Karen Steinwachs, assistant winemaker Brett Reeves, and Matt Kettmann from Wine Enthusiast and Indy fame (he's busy getting ready to publish the book about SB wines, even) live. For some reason, our connection worked best through one of our iPhones, and not through our laptop.
You see, the generally high acid Cabernet Franc tends to work well with smoky flavors, hence the idea grilling would be good. At that point, you sort of have to make the name joke, don't you? (As if I could ever give someone the slightest bit of a hard time for pushing a bit of wordplay, c'mon.) The "home kit" featured a bottle of Buttonwood's 2017 barrel-fermented/aged Cab Franc and their more experimental 2019 Carbonique--Cab Franc that goes through carbonic maceration. The simplest way to think of this is the "regular" CF ferments in open vessels, while the carbonic CF ferments in a closed vessel. That means the grapes ferment from the inside out. And, if you're Steniwachs, whose desk at the winery is near the closed fermenter, you hope nothing explodes (at least that's what she joked).
The difference is a "lighter" wine, more fruit-forward--which is important for Buttonwood's Cab Franc as it tends to grow smaller berries. Note that vintage difference, too--you also drink it sooner. It's meant to be a "fresh" wine. Thanks to those profiles, they suggest you give it a bit of a chill, too. Yes, a red! It's ok. It certainly works with the hotdogs, even our rather soulless vegan ones (think of them as carrying devices for sweet relish and miso mayo).
Nothing was soulless about the event, though. Karen is always good for a sly aside or two, and the wine knowledge of all the participants was of course top-notch without being any kind of pedantic. So a good time was had by us, and it seemed, everyone. Even if those of us not tasting safely socially distanced on site didn't get to try the Carbonique both chilled and room temp, or try the 2007 Cab Franc. And we didn't get to celebrate Kettmann's birthday with cake, either. He owes us one.
By the way, we didn't finish the 2017 CF that afternoon, and since it was a mighty hot weekend, we kept it in the fridge until the next day. Turns out it's quite good with a bit of a chill too, if heartier and deeper than it's carbonic cousin.