Perhaps lesser known than its Cabernet Sauvignon offspring, Cabernet Franc is nonetheless a remarkable grape variety. Let’s shed some light on this less famous variety.
HOW TO PRONOUNCE?
WHERE DOES IT COMES FROM?
Cabernet Franc is a black grape variety which comes from the Basque country in the South-West of France. It has since found a place of choice in Bordeaux. There, it is part of the world famous “Bordeaux blend” which consists of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot
Today it is one of the Loire valley’s main black grape varieties.
You will also find Cab Franc in many wine growing countries in the World, including Italy, Chile, the United States and even China.
It is used to produce a wide range of styles of wines, from single varietal reds to blended reds, and rosés.
WHAT DOES IT TASTE LIKE?
Cabernet Franc is a pleasant grape variety, famously described by Jancis Robinson as “the feminine side of Cabernet Sauvignon. It is subtly fragrant and gently flirtatious rather than massively muscular and tough in youth”.
It has aroma of strawberry and raspberry, and also often displays a refreshing hint of blackcurrant.
Other frequent aromas include plum, pepper and chili.
The wines tend to be of medium acidity and tannin.
When used in the Bordeaux blend, they bring “fruit” while Cabernet Sauvignon brings the structure (tannins).
CABERNET FRANC FOOD PAIRING?
Cabernet Franc can be paired with a lot of meat dishes: roasted pork, poultry in particular are good pairings, especially with fresh sauces such as tomato sauces or fresh herb sauces.
It can also be served with vegetarian dishes such as bean salads, roasted peppers and tomato salads or even soups.
If you want to be adventurous, certain Cabernet Francs from the Loire valley can be superb with game.
WHERE ARE THE BEST REGIONS FOR CABERNET FRANC?
In the Loire valley, look for wines from Saumur-Champigny, Chinon or Bourgueil, and you will probably find some of the finest examples of the variety.
As mentioned before, Cabernet Franc has found a place of choice in Bordeaux. More specifically, the appellation of Saint-Emilion is a great place to seek out Cabernet Franc oriented blends. Chateau Cheval Blanc is probably the most prestigious Cabernet Franc ‘ambassador”.
Outside of France, Italy would be the first go-to place.
In Tuscany, it has become an integral part of certain “Super Tuscan” wines. These wines are great expressions of Cabernet blends and well worth a try.
Further afield, Cabernet Franc is quite present in California, as well as Chile. Both regions produce beautiful wines that you should definitely go out and try once (hopefully more) in your life.
WHAT TASTES SIMILAR ?
Cabernet Franc is of course not a million miles away from Cabernet Sauvignon. However as previously mentioned, it is less powerful.
Carmenere is also a great option to go for if you like Cabernet Franc. Chile is a great producer of Carmenere and would be my first recommendation for someone having never tried that variety before.
5 TO TRY
Here are five wonderful examples of Cabernet Franc wines that will give you a great expression of this grape variety.
- Clos de la Dioterie, Domaine Charles Joguet, Chinon
- La Marginale, Domaine des Roches Neuves, Saumur Champigny
- Les Perrières, Domaine Catherinet Et Pierre Breton, Bourgueil
- Château Franc Mayne, St-Emilion, Bordeaux
- Andrew Lane, Oakville, California