The more popular Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot certainly overshadow Cabernet Franc, but what most people don’t know is that without Cabernet Franc, we wouldn’t have either of these grapes!
All You Need to Know About Cabernet Franc
by Beth Richman
Why are we talking about Cabernet Franc?
The more popular Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot certainly overshadow Cabernet Franc, but what most people don’t know is that without Cabernet Franc, we wouldn’t have either of these grapes! Cabernet Franc is a parent grape to both Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Thought to be originally from the Basque Country in Spain, Cabernet Franc is most at home in the western French wine regions of Bordeaux and the Loire Valley, but you can also find it growing in Italy, the U.S., and South America.
What will I taste in a glass?
Next time you sip on a glass of Bordeaux, take a minute to see if you notice any bell pepper or pepper spice. Is it there? If it is, your Bordeaux blend likely has some Cabernet Franc. Varietal Cabernet Franc typically produces wines with a medium body, medium-high acidity, and low-medium tannins, but this drastically differs depending on where your Cabernet Franc grapes are grown. You’ll typically notice flavors and aromas of red fruit, herbs, spice, and earth. If your wine is from the Loire Valley, you’ll get limestone minerality with higher acidity from the cooler climate. On the flip side, if you’re drinking a California Cabernet Franc, you will taste more jammy fruit flavors with less acidity and higher alcohol.
Which region should I look for?
While Cabernet Franc is a blending partner in right-bank Bordeaux reds, it shines as the star of red wines from the Loire Valley. Look for wines from Chinon, Bourgueil, or Saumur-Champigny, distinct regions known for high-acid, low-tannin Cabernet Franc with an abundance of red fruit, jalapeno, and gravel. If you’d like to experience a warm-climate example of Cabernet Franc, with more fruit notes, less acidity, higher alcohol, and perhaps additional complexity from oak-aging, look for a bottle from the Sierra Foothills in California or Tuscany in Italy.
How can I pair with food?
Cabernet Franc is a fun wine to pair with a variety of different dishes. Due to its higher acidity, Loire Valley Cabernet Franc is a great partner for dishes with tomato sauce or vinegar-based BBQ sauce. For those from warmer climates like Italy or California, pair with grilled pork chops or a mushroom Swiss burger. It also goes well with a majority of fresh herbs, so pick up a glass of Cabernet Franc next time you make Chicken Kiev or eggplant and roasted potatoes with rosemary. The sky’s the limit with this one!
Where can I pick up a bottle?
DCanter, of course! Check out our selection of varietal Cabernet Franc or traditional Bordeaux blends in-store or online. Find a great Cabernet Franc food pairing? Enjoy a glass while bingeing a new show? Let us know @dcanterwines.