What is Cabernet Franc?

Cabernet Franc is a medium-bodied wine with great structure and aromatics. Fresh tasting red and black fruit with hints of peppers and cherry pipe tobacco.

In this post, we’ll cover some quick facts on the Cabernet Franc wine varietal and give you an in-depth analysis of the wine profile to help you understand the Vitis vinifera var Cabernet Franc grape variety.


Table of Contents


Introductory Wine Profile:
Quick Facts About the Cabernet Franc Wine Variety



What colour wine is Cabernet Franc?

Cabernet Franc is a bright pale red wine.

cabernet franc


Wine Body Type

Cabernet Franc is a medium-bodied red wine.



Is Cabernet Franc dry or sweet?

Cabernet Franc is a typically dry red wine.


Flavours & Aromas

  • Fruit: raspberry, black currant, cherry
  • Vegetable: bell pepper, chilli & jalepeño peppers, tomato
  • Floral: dried flowers/herbs
  • Oak: cherry tobacco, green leaf tobacco, cola
  • Other: chalk, stone, smoke


Food Pairings

What foods go with Cabernet Franc wine?

Cabernet Franc wines go well with tomato-based pizzas and pastas.

Wine & Cheese Pairings for Cabernet Franc: Feta and Goat cheeses
Meat Pairings for Cabernet Franc: Lamb, especially herbed, like Rosemary
Cabernet Franc & Vegetable Pairing: Roasted Vegetables (Eggplant, Lentils, Mushrooms)


How to Serve this Wine

How do you drink Cabernet Franc?

To get the best flavour out of your wine, you should serve Cabernet Franc at 18-21°C (65-70°F).


Comparable Wine Styles

What is Cabernet Franc similar to?

Try a Cabernet Franc if you like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.


How to pronounce Cabernet Franc:

Cab-ehr-NAY fronk


Where are the first Cabernet Franc wines from?

Top (Name) Producing Countries

Old World Regions

  • Loire Valley, France (Chinon)
  • Bordeaux, France
  • Italy
  • Spain

New World Regions

  • Canada (BC and Ontario)
  • USA (Washinton, California)


Our favourite examples of this wine varietal

Cave Spring Cellars Cabernet Franc
Château de la Mulonnière Anjou Rouge


Advanced Information on Vitis vinifera Cabernet Franc Grape Variety


The Origin of the Grape Name

What is the scientific name for Cabernet Franc?

The scientific name for Vitus vinifera Cabernet Franc. This Cabernet is what many people Calle “the other Cab,” in reference to the more popular Cabernet Sauvignon. It is pronounced CAB-er-nay FRONK.


Synonyms of this Wine Varietal

Bouchet, Bourgeuil, Breton, Cabernet Franco, Cabernet Gris, Chinon, Petit Vidure, Véronais


Tasting Profile of the Cabernet Franc Grape Variety

What are the characteristics of Cabernet Franc?


The Appearance

Lighter in colour than it’s “grape child” Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc is bright red, but lighter in intensity and more translucent. As a single varietal wine, it is medium-bodied with medium tannins, thanks to the small, thin-skinned grapes.


Aroma, Flavours & Mouthfeel of Cabernet Franc Wine

What does Cabernet Franc taste like?

Cabernet Franc has a similar profile to Cabernet Sauvignon (they do share the same DNA after all) with some marked differences. Cab Franc leans towards the fruity characteristics with added spiciness from black pepper and cassis. Raspberry and blackcurrant fill the fruit tray, with floral bouquets of violets to round out the nose. Pepper, tobacco, and earthy graphite are all common as well. The grape itself is small with thin skin, so these wines as a single variety tend to have less tannin than Cabernet Sauvignon, as they also tend to thrive in slightly cooler climates. The grape ripens earlier than most others grown in similar areas, giving a kick of acidity when blended with other wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.


Grape Variety Terroir

In what conditions does Cabernet Franc grow?

As a parental grape to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc shares many vine similarities but also exhibits several predominant differences. It ripens earlier, usually a week or two if not more, depending on the year’s weather. In regions like Bordeaux, this works well for the production of red Bordeaux wines, acting as an insurance policy against bad weather during the Cabernet Sauvignon harvest.

Yields must be controlled through rigorous pruning or the wines can often take on a vegetal aroma and flavour that some wine drinkers dislike. It is not a fault in the wine, but a general preference towards fruitier wines is preferred.

Chalky, sandy soils are ideal for Cabernet Franc, producing a heavier style wine with very aromatic displays of fruit and floral notes.

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Specific Growing Regions of this Grape Variety

In Old World wine regions, particularly France, Cabernet Franc is primarily used in red wines from Bordeaux as one of blending components, though frequently used in smaller amounts to Cab Sauv and Merlot. It adds a touch of spicy character and acidity, as well as acts as a bit of an insurance policy on the later ripening Cab Sauv. If come harvest, the weather acts up and affects the Cab Sauv harvest, the earlier ripening Cab Franc is there to save the day and can be used in larger amounts to still create quality wines.

Cabernet Franc is also the main red varietal grown in the Loire Valley, including Anjou, Chinon, Bourgeuil, and Saumur. The Loire stretches West to East along Northwestern France, with a continental climate conducive to growing exceptional Cab Franc grapes, although red wines in the region are far less common than white wines. Chinon, in particular, is known for its production and high-quality Cab Franc wines.

In New World wine regions, like Canada and the USA, Cabernet Franc is more often used as a single varietal wine. In the Niagara region in Ontario, Canada, and in the Finger Lakes region in New York State, USA, it is also used to make Icewine. Canada’s cooler climate has proven to be great ground for Cabernet Franc, ripening earlier than other red varieties. More than 75% of Canada’s ice wine comes from Ontario. With ice wine, the grapes are kept on the vine through the first frost, and in order to be classified as ice wine, they must hang frozen for 3 days at a minimum -7 degrees Celcius (-8 degrees if you’re in Germany). They are then pressed and fermented into the sweet and often pricey Ice Wine. Cabernet Franc’s fruity profile makes a deliciously sweet ice wine that is popular worldwide.


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