This fragrant, juicy sibling of Cabernet Sauvignon lifts many a Bordeaux blend, and is also responsible for some classic summer reds.
Cabernet Franc is usually content to play second fiddle to other grape varieties, giving a leafy raspberry note to many blends. However, it’s also happy to take a starring role, and the success of these wines makes you wonder why there aren’t more of them.
It’s not as serious as its relative Cabernet Sauvignon, but Cab Franc is one of those rare grapes capable of making genuinely refreshing, light- to medium-bodied red wines.
Its home turf is France’s Loire Valley, where it makes easy drinking summer reds, as well as more serious fare in Bourgueil and Chinon. In Bordeaux, it appears in blends – 10-25 percent is typical – to add a leafy blackcurrant and raspberry edge to many Cabernet Sauvignon- and Merlot-based wines.
In northeastern Italy, much of what was thought to be Cab Franc is actually Carmenère, but there are still significant amounts grown. Elsewhere in the world, it is mainly planted for Bordeaux-style blends. Where standalone versions exist, they can be excellent, with those from warmer climates having touches of tar and berries alongside the leafy fragrance.
Lighter Loire Cabernet Francs are all the better for half an hour in the fridge.
Which famous Bordeaux château has more than 50 Cabernet Francs in its vineyard?
Château Cheval Blanc in St Emilion.