If the name Cabernet Franc sounds familiar to you, it shouldn’t be surprising because it’s related to the most widely recognized red wine grape Cabernet Sauvignon. Actually Cabernet Franc is older grape variety than Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The reason we know this is because it is the parent grape of both of those varieties.
Growing well everywhere
It tends to be a little bit leaner and lighter-bodied then Cab Sav and Merlot. It grows almost everywhere and it grows well everywhere. By a wide margin, France is home to the majority of the world’s Cabernet Franc plantings. Italy, the United States, Hungary, Chile, and South Africa following.
You can find it in cooler climates like Canada surviving frozen winters and you can find it in very hot climates, Tuscany is a great example for the latter. Cabernet Franc used mostly as a blending grape because of its great herbal and floral notes as well as its acidity.
Cabernet Franc has a special relationship with Bordeaux where it’s been a part of that region’s wine culture for centuries. Generally speaking, when we are talking about Cabernet Franc as a single varietal wine, we have to go a little bit more further north up in France. Therefore here we are talking about the Loire Valley. And this is going to be Chinon and this is where Cab Franc really comes into its own. It’s a much cooler climate then you’d find in Bordeaux, so you are going to be a little bit higher in acidity and a little bit more fruit-forward.
Cab Franc is an early ripener, ready for harvest a full week or two before Cabernet Sauvignon usually is. It tends toward medium alcohol and tannin and the tannins especially can be at the low end of the medium while its acidity tends to sit at the high end of medium and beyond making it a great wine to drink with food especially when done in a cool climate style.
You can pair a Cabernet Franc wine with seasoned roasts: pork and pot roast, herbed poultry, and saucy stews. In other words, you can pair it with anything that may be heavy on the herbs. For high-end Bordeaux, you will pay a premium, but for the most part, Cab Franc and its blends are pretty affordable.