Cabernet Franc Wine Needs More Attention

Cabernet Franc simply doesn’t get the same attention that its brawny offspring, Cabernet Sauvigon, does… which, if you ask any sommelier or “cork dork” as we say, is an utter shame. Cabernet Franc is best in cool climates like Bordeaux, the Loire Valley, Ontario and Okanagan Valley in Canada and even Northern Italy. These northern climes produce a classic bright, fresh, vivid and expressive wine that is pure and focused in its demeanour. It is juicy and fresh with tangy black currant leaves, unmistakable fresh raspberry tones, and just a sultry touch of earthiness. The wines are designed to allow the grapes to speak freely and of themselves. Rarely is oak a dominate factor in the profile of these wines. These are perfect food wines with various cuisines.

 

Cabernet Franc Wine in France: Chinon and Bourgueil

In France of course it is never labelled as Cabernet Franc. For pure expressions look for wines labelled Chinon or Bourgueil from the Loire Valley. In Bordeaux it is always blended with Merlot in right bank wines such as St Emilion, Pommerol and Fronsac.

 

Beside France, Where in the World Does Cabernet Franc Grow?

In the warmer climates of the rest of the world, Cabernet Franc is being explored throughout South America, Australia, South Africa, California and even successfully in Washington. All of these warm continental to hot Mediterranean climates create a much fuller style Cabernet Franc often cloaked in a heavy blanket of sweet vanillin oak and rich jammier fruit. No matter what the wine making techniques however Cabernet Franc seemingly never lets go of its green pepper and herbaceous qualities sometimes appearing in wafts of tobacco and green leaf. These wines are bolder in style and require more voluminous dishes with rich flavour.

Both renditions of Cabernet Franc are worth exploring whether you are a Pinot Noir lover or a fan of Cabernet Sauvignon there may be a pleasurable opportunity for you in a Cabernet Franc experience.

 

Top 5 Sommelier Favourites for Single Varietal Cabernet Franc

 

2012 Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Niagara, Canada

Red raspberry, current leaf and hints of herbs keep this fleshy and vibrant red front of mind. A great wine for a casual dinner of burgers or a simple roast.

 

2012 Tinhorn Cabernet Franc Okanagan Valley, Canada

Bright berry driven and juicy. A great example of pure fruit expression and what the grape can do in the Okanagan Valley

 

2010 Chateau Haut-Brisson St. Emilion, Bordeaux, France

A much more firm handed and serious version of Cabernet Franc here. It is actually Merlot based with a good dose of Franc and it is evident. Boat loads of red fruit, cedar, box wood and red current make this a classic right bank Bordeaux. 2010 was a solid vintage and this is a value buy!

 

2012 Larkin Cabernet Franc Napa Valley, California

The deepest and most luscious of Cab Francs on display here. The fruit is deep, sweet and overtly ripe without being jammy. Loads of red and black current, cassis, sweet vanillin oak flavours and just a touch of spice. The usual greenness or herbaceous qualities are nearing silent. Rich, dense, thick, coating with velvety tannins and a voluminous character this is one for the cellar or the table. Drink now through 2025.

 

2008 Gran Enimego Malbec/Cabernet Franc

Okay, not a single varietal Cabernet Franc, but definitely worth mentioning. In typical Argentine fashion this is an opaque and staining wine in the glass. Malbec brings deep dark fruit and floral notes while the heavy hit of Cabernet Franc offers some vegetal notes along with currant. It is a big mouth full of intense wine showing varietal characteristics from each of the grapes. Drink now or cellar through 2022.

 

Now that you’ve read all about the Cabernet Franc Grape Variety, check out A Year of Grapes and Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon