A Profile on Cabernet Franc
Once in a while children become superstars. It happened with Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, and yes…Cabernet Sauvignon. The child of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon often outshines its parent when it comes to red varietal wines and even in traditional Bordeaux and Meritage style blends.
Cabernet Franc is one of the main red grape varietals in the world. It is one of the seven Bordeaux grapes grown in Bordeaux, France and traditionally blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. But Cabernet Franc can be made into a 100% varietal wine in many areas of the world including the Loire Valley in France, California, Washington and Argentina.
Cabernet Franc was discovered in the Libournais region of France (Southwest) in the 17th century, almost immediately transplanted to the Loire Valley. In the 18th century, Cabernet Franc spread into the Bordeaux region and began to appear in the red blended wines famous to the region. In the late 1990’s many noticed the similarities between the Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and a relationship between the two was discovered.
Cabernet Franc is traditionally a bit lighter in body than Cabernet Sauvignon, but offers a spicier flavor profile often with hints of pepper, tobacco, cassis and even violets and greenness. The flavor of Cabernet Franc is very specific and often surprises many people, in many ways it is similar to its child, but the reduced tannins and green flavors are very distinctive.
Some of the differences in the flavors of the wine are do to the viticulture and growing practices. Cabernet Franc buds and ripens about a week prior to Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc is also a bit more versatile in the the types of soil it can grow in, but thrives in sandy, chalky soils.
You can find Cabernet Franc at all price points, however if you are exploring this ‘new’ grape we highly suggest spending the extra money to get a high quality wine from a premium producer. Here are some reccomendations:
1. Cougar Crest Cabernet Franc
Columbia Valley, Washington
By far one of my favorite wines (not just Cabernet Franc but overall), this wine is smooth and full bodied…jammy berries balanced with oak, tobacco, pepper, and green herbs.
92 points, Wine Spectator
2. Darioush Cabernet Franc
Napa Valley, California
A premium producer in Napa, this wine is blended with 5% Merlot which perfectly balances the Cabernet Franc. Vibrant dark fruits (blackberry, cassis) balanced earth and lavendar.