An often under-appreciated grape, used predominantly in Bordeaux blends, Cabernet Franc is one of the parent varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon (the other being Sauvignon Blanc). However, Cab Franc has never quite achieved the same level of celebrity as its offspring. Although used extensively throughout Bordeaux as “insurance” against the earlier-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, and comprising a large proportion of the red blends from both sides of the river, there are few Bordeaux producers that craft Cabernet Franc as a single varietal wine. That having been said, it is vinified as a single varietal wine to outstanding success in the Loire Valley, and areas of the New World as well.
Areas of the Loire such as Chinon and Bourgeuil produce stunning red wines from Cabernet Franc, that show aromas of raspberries, black currant, violet and graphite. Cab Franc characteristically has a green, vegetal note to it as well, which is increased if the correct level of ripeness is not reached. In fact, due to its late ripening, one of the challenges of this grape is to minimise the typical green characters by leaving it on the vine longer, while still retaining the natural acidity. But when it’s done right, the subsequent wines are fantastic.