The Versatility of Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Franc, a red grape variety, is often referred to as Cabernet Sauvignon’s “little brother” in the wine world. However, the name is a misrepresentation because Cabernet Franc, an old variety, is a parent of the highly regarded Cabernet Sauvignon. According to DNA analysis, Cabernet Sauvignon was created by a natural cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Merlot is also a descendant of Cabernet Franc and arose from a cross between Cabernet Franc and Magdeleine Noire des Charentes, a grape variety that is now likely extinct. However, the origin of the Cabernet Franc grape variety is unknown. Its ancestors are thought to be descendants of wild vines. What is known is that it has been a Bordeaux native for centuries.
Part of many Bordeaux wines
Cabernet Franc is native to France, but it also has growing areas in Italy, California, Australia, New Zealand, and Argentina, to name a few. The vine is more weather-resistant than Cabernet Sauvignon, making it ideal for cooler wine regions. Cabernet Franc wine is frequently used as a blending partner, including in the famous Bordeaux wines, where it joins Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in a pleasant-tasting combination. Varietal wines made from Cabernet Franc berries are more challenging to find. Some winemakers in California and Australia bottle their wines according to variety. The best known, however, are the Loire varietal Cabernet Franc wines.
The flavors of Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Franc varietal wine has less tannin than Cabernet Sauvignon, so it is ready to drink sooner. Furthermore, the wine is less acidic, fruitier, and softer, with a lighter color. Cabernet Franc wine has aromas of raspberries, blackcurrants, strawberries, and violets, with paprika and green pepper hints. Overall, Cabernet Franc wines are rich and intense in fragrance and flavor.
Cabernet, in a nutshell
- Cabernet Franc is a vital blending grape, primarily found in Bordeaux-style red wine blends.
- Several of our favorite grape varietals are descended from Cabernet Franc. We enjoy Cabernet Sauvignon as a result of a natural cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Merlot resulted from its cross with Magdeleine Noire des Charentes, and Carmenere resulted from its cross with Gros Cabernet.
- Cabernet Franc is one of the world’s twenty most widely planted grape varieties.
- The Cabernet Franc grape’s flavor characteristics range from sweeter notes like plum, blackberry, violets, raspberry, and blueberry to more savory notes like sage, bay leaf, rosemary, tobacco, bell pepper, and eucalyptus.
- Cabernet Franc has fewer tannins and acids than Cabernet Sauvignon. It is not as full-bodied as its offspring, but it is more aromatic, ripens earlier, and performs better in colder weather.
- Cabernet Franc is known by many different names including Aceria, Acheria, Arrouya, Bordo, Bouchet, Bouchy (Gascony), Breton, Burdeas Tinto, Cabernet Aunis, Cabernet Franco, Capbreton Rouge, Carmenet (Médoc), Fer Servandou, Gamput, Grosse Vidure, Hartling, Kaberne Fran, Messanges Rouge, Morenoa, Noir Dur, Petit Fer, Petit Viodure, andPetite Vidure.
Where is the Cabernet Franc grape grown?
Cabernet Franc is one of the most widely planted grape varieties globally, and it is grown in a range of countries. Although France, particularly the Bordeaux region, remains the primary wine-growing region, the low-cost wine is famous far beyond the country’s borders. The Cabernet Franc grape variety is most common in Italy and Spain, but it is also found in Hungary, Russia, China, and Kazakhstan. Cabernet Franc from Chile is also gaining popularity, as it is nearly an ideal climate for the grape.
A match made in heaven
Both Cabernet Franc varietal wines and cuvées containing a significant amount of Cabernet Franc grape variety have a lot of character and signature strength. As a result, they are not suitable as a companion for foods that are lightly spiced or have a low taste on their own. Dark meats and game, grilled and stewed, complement this type of wine nicely. Cabernet Franc is a fragrant red wine. For stews with sauce, you should also enrich the sauce with the wine of choice for the typical Cabernet Franc flavor to emphasize its character in the dishes.
Furthermore, the Cabernet Franc flavor pairs well with strong and spicy cheeses, as long as the fat content isn’t too high. The fat and acidity of the wine would overlap and disrupt the taste. Try a variety of cheeses, as some can create wonderful harmonies with the Cabernet Franc flavor.
On this Day
Cabernet Franc Day is on December 4
Want to read more? Try these books!
- Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours. Jancis Robinson 2012
- Wine. Years. People. Events. Massandra Wine Collection 2010
- The World Atlas of Wine: 8th Edition. Johnson, H & Robinson, J. 2019