Cabernet Franc is one of the oldest black grapes from France and is primarily grown in the Loire Valley and western regions of the country. In the Loire, it is made into a single variety for dry wines, and blended with other black grapes to make sweet Rosés. Cab Franc, as it is affectionately called, is also the parent of its famous children Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which also happen to be two major blending partners in Bordeaux wines. All three grapes carry the notable family gene of a green bell pepper taste, which can be a bit pungent when unripe. Premium expressions of Cabernet Franc are found in Chinon, Bourgueil and Saumur-Champigny.
This grape produces wine with a medium body, medium-high acidity and tannins, and medium alcohol. It is known for its red and black fruit flavors, including raspberry, strawberry, red plum, black cherry and black currant. It also has notes of herbs, flowers and spicy black pepper. It is usually enjoyed as an easy-drinking, approachable, and fruity wine. However, premium bottle-aged expressions can improve over time and go on to develop flavors of leather, earth and tobacco.
Premium expressions of Cabernet Franc are found in the Chinon, Bourgueil and Saumur-Champigny regions of the Loire Valley. The cool climate produces light and fruity styles on sandy soils and fuller, more age-worthy styles on sunny vineyard slopes facing south. The fuller styles are often riper, more complex and with higher levels of tannin, which make them candidates for aging for years or even decades in the bottle.
Cabernet Franc is a pretty versatile wine that pairs well with big, hearty meat dishes like steaks, burgers, beef stew, roasted poultry, sausage, lamb and meatballs. It also compliments side dishes such as green vegetables, olives, Portobello, mushrooms, fresh herbs, and french onion soup.
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