Cabernet Franc

Adored and revered by wine specialists but largely unknown amongst many wine drinkers – this superlative grape variety is generally added as a blend to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot wines. Many of the great wines of Bordeaux, California, Australasia, South America and South Africa all contain Cabernet Franc in varying amounts.

Only in the historic Loire region of France has it long been used as a single varietal – in the sub-regions of Touriane: Saumur Champigny, Bourgeil and Chinon (where it is sometimes referred to as Bouchet). However, in recent times it has been bottled as a monovarietal with great success in Argentina, South Africa, Italy and Chile, with smaller plantings in Australia, New Zealand and USA following suit.

Cabernet Franc is a close relative of Cabernet Sauvignon, however the characteristics of Cabernet Franc are markedly different with the predominant aromas and flavours being generally more aromatic and perfumed. Cabernet Franc berries are smaller too and if yields are controlled the resulting juice will be more concentrated, generally with more acidity and tannin than Cabernet Sauvignon (for similar yields), and whilst having plenty of substance it is a touch more elegant and softer to the more muscular and denser Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc also has the added advantage of ripening earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon which is why the Bordelais have planted it as a back-up for years when nature doesn’t allow the later ripening Cabernet Sauvignon to mature fully.

Loire Cabernet Franc, being of a northerly climate for a red grape, is generally light to medium bodied with a freshness and crispness which lends itself well to classic rich French bistro fayre.

However, the versions from the new world and Italy are richer and more voluptuous in style, with excellent balance and structure but with less aggressive tannins and acidity. They have a particular affinity to lamb dishes but are equally compatible with all classic roast meat dishes.

Cabernet Franc has the ability to age extremely well – gaining a hauntingly floral and perfumed personality as it ages. Showing just what the potential is for this grape variety you only have to look at two of the great Bordeaux châteaux for confirmation: Châteaux Cheval Blanc and Châteaux Figeac in St Emilion where they use Cabernet Franc as their majority planting, and all the First Growths in the Medoc region use it to some extent in their blends too.

If we’ve whetted your appetite to try a wine made from or blended with Cabernet Franc, take a look at these …..

Pure Cabernet Franc 
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Cabernet Franc blend (aka Bordeaux blend) 
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