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  • Writer's pictureCarlos Sarmiento

Rigatoni with sausage and rosemary-tomato cream sauce & 2016 Staura Cellars Reserve Cabernet Franc

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

The first time I ever heard of Cabernet Franc wine was many years ago when I read an article in one of those travel and lifestyle magazines.

What was particularly interesting about the story was that the writer not only wrote about the destination, but somehow took a little extra time to talk about food recommendations and even a wine pairing suggestion.

Up to that point, I had tried Cabernet Sauvignon but was immediately intrigued in learning more about this new varietal.

Cabernet Franc is the parent grape of both Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon (side note: Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc).

(Photo courtesy of Staura Cellars)

This grape originated in the Basque region of southwest France, near the border with Spain. It’s one of the most important grapes used for highly prized blend wines like Bordeaux wines.

Wine Folly, the online publication says: “One fascinating flavor in Cabernet Franc wines is a disarming aroma often described as bell pepper. In warmer climates, the aroma is a bit sweeter like roasted red pepper or cayenne spiced chocolate, but the pepper characteristic is notable.”

(Photo courtesy of Staura Cellars)

This description was spot on, especially after having tried and paired a particular Cabernet Franc with a new dish I am about to share with you.

To celebrate National Cabernet Franc Day, I had the great fortune of forging a wonderful collaboration with Staura Cellars in California, thanks to my friend Lori Budd, proprietor of Dracaena Wines, also in California (and the one who actually coined #CabFrancDay).

Staura Cellars is a true testament of love. Steve and Laura met in 2014 and fell instantly in love after both searched for that "perfect" relationship.

(Photo courtesy of Staura Cellars)

Their first meeting was a simple lunch date. Before they knew, they had spent 7 hours at lunch, at the same table engrossed in conversation. A couple of bottles of wine and two server changes later, they knew they were hooked. This was one of those"magic" moments when you just know it is right. A year later they were married. From there, Staura (Steve + Laura) was created.

(Photo courtesy of Staura Cellars)

The winery stemmed from their mutual love of wine and they started the winery to celebrate their love for each other and find a way to bottle their passion. Steve and Laura hope that you feel the love they put into every bottle of wine they create.

Indeed, you can capture love in a bottle and what is even better is Staura Cellars’ slogan:

pouring the love.

Let‘s get cooking!

Menu: Rigatoni with sausage and rosemary-tomato cream sauce.

Wine pairing: 2016 Staura Cellars “To the Moon and Back” Reserve Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Franc (Napa, California)

Serves 6-8



  • 1 package of rigatoni pasta

Pasta sauce 1:

  • 1 (28-ounce) can of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 small peeled and finely minced yellow onion

  • 3 finely minced garlic cloves

  • Sea salt & cracked pepper

  • A bunch of fresh basil leaves (about 10 leaves)

Pasta sauce 2 (rosemary cream):

  • 2 tablespoons of butter

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, finely chopped

  • 1/3 cup of heavy cream


  • 1 package of Argentinean-style chorizo (sausage). Cooked on the grill or pan-fired, then cut in 1/8 inch thick slices.

Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for grating when serving.


Pasta sauce (part 1):

  • Add San Marzano tomatoes to a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.

  • Add the olive oil to a large pot at low heat. Add in garlic and onion and cook until translucent, approximately 10 minutes.

  • Pour in the pureed tomatoes and simmer over low to medium heat for at least 30 minutes. Tip: the longer you simmer it, the better it will taste.

  • Finish by stirring in basil, salt and pepper (to taste).

Pasta sauce 2 (rosemary cream):

  • On small pot, melt butter on medium heat.

  • Add rosemary and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.

  • Add heavy cream and being to a boil, stirring throughout.

  • Once sauce is complete, add this to pasta sauce 1 (tomato sauce), stir well and keep warm.


  • Grill or pan-fry sausages.

  • Cut sausages in 1/8 inch thick slices. Set aside.


  • Cook pasta according to instructions.

Serve it up!

On a large serving bowl mix rigatoni with pasta sauce. Then add sausage slices and mix again.

Serve pasta on individual plates and grate some parmesan cheese on top.

Buon appetito! Enjoy!

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

About the wine… Staura Cellar’s 2016 Reserve Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Franc is truly one of the best wines they have ever made.

Starting with one of the top 5 vineyards in all of Napa and aging this Reserve for 22 months in French Oak makes this a bottle to be thoroughly enjoyed.

Very limited production! Only 300 bottles of this Reserve are available. Great wine for any special occasion or as a wedding gift. Soft structured tannins but so elegant on the palate.

2016 Staura Cellars “To the Moon and Back” Reserve - Stagecoach Vineyard

Cabernet Franc (Napa, California)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

Tasting notes:

The nose is elegant and complex with initial aromas of earthy vegetables like bell pepper and spice. As the wine breathes and eases in, there are lovely, subtle sweet notes of dark berries, violets, plum and butterscotch.

This medium-bodied wine has a smooth texture, polished tannins, featuring quite a pleasant long-lasting, and elegant finish.

Grapes: 96% Cabernet Franc, 2% Merlot, 1% Petit Merlot, 1% Malbec

Alcohol: 14.7

Food pairing: Enjoy with red meats, sausages, tomato-based pastas dishes, mushrooms and mild cheeses.

(Photo courtesy of Staura Cellars)


95 Points & double gold medal winner.

American Fine Wine Competition

For more information, visit:



I am grateful to Steve and Laura Durie, proprietors of Staura Cellars for sending me this incredible vintage of a such a fantastic varietal. I look forward to future food and wine pairings with your portfolio of wines.


Special thanks to my dear friend Lori Budd, proprietor of Dracaena Wines, and founder of #CabFrancDay, for making this unique wine pairing collaboration with Staura Cellars possible.

For more information, visit:





Don‘t forget to check out and subscribe to Lori’s award-winning blog & podcast:

Exploring the Wine Glass.


(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

Decorative wine drip collar ring (grape) by:

Assorted styles and themes available.

(Special discount promo code: CFW15)

(Photo courtesy of Staura Cellars)

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