While I love all wine, there are two red grapes that hold a near and dear place in my heart, and Cabernet Franc is one of them!
Cabernet Franc is one of the most underrated yet wildly important grapes there is. As one of the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon and a mainstay in Bordeaux blends, it deserves its due. Umm... fun fact that should be included here, it is also the parent of Merlot, and Carmenere. It's a busy grape!
Like most things of a historical nature and related to wine in France, Cabernet Franc's origin has a religious beginning. Cabernet Franc was born in southwest France and brought to the Loire Valley by a Cardinal who then had it planted at the Abbey of Bourgueil.
Probably, the most famous Loire region for Cabernet Franc today is Chinon. So you will see bottles simply labeled Chinon or Chinon Red. That is enough of an indicator that in that bottle is Cabernet Franc.
Other areas in the Loire Valley with incredible Cabernet Franc are Bourgueil and Saumur-Champigny. Trying wines from these areas (Chinon, Bourgueil, and Saumur-Champigny) side by side, you can clearly decipher that you are drinking Cabernet Franc, but each of these regions produces Cabernet Franc with its own characteristics. I have always said this is a grape variety that really showcases terroir. I've had two glasses of Chinon, side by side, from one vineyard, but from two different parcels of land in that vineyard, and terroir differences can be seen even there.
Flavour Profile Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Franc is an aromatic, red berry, tomato, and herb kind of wine. One of its tell-tale signs is notes of bell pepper or jalapeno, depending on where the grapes are grown. You will also find lively acidity and moderate tannins in this wine giving it the style profile fit for any meal on a patio.
Being in the top 20 of the most planted grape varieties in the world, you can find Cabernet Franc in a multitude of wine regions. I am personally fond of cooler climate Cabernet Franc, but I have recently had a Chilean expression of this grape that was quite delicious, and a good reminder to never say never.
Areas to look out for are:
Canada - Cabernet Franc shows exceptionally well in Ontario. The bright red fruit bursts with energy, and are balanced nicely with notable herbaceousness.
Italy - there are some incredible Tuscan Cabernet Francs out there. They come with all of the Cabernet Franc traits you expect, plus a deeper level of earthiness coupled with herbs and pepper here. A well made Tuscan Cabernet Franc will have you in awe, sip after sip, with its beautiful complexity.
Like with Pinot Noir and Gamay, I serve Cabernet Franc at either 12°C to 13°C on the patio, and at about 14°C otherwise. It's a wine for all days, but I pull out a bottle when I am looking for something special with dinner. It is in my top two red grapes remember.
And with that, I think it's high time you add Cabernet Franc to your list of year round reds!
Curious about what Cabernet Franc you should try next? Drop me a line here. I would be happy to geek out Cab Franc with you!