The Grape Adventure: The Cabernet Franc

The Cabernet Franc

In general, Cabernet Franc is very similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, but buds ripens at least a week earlier. This trait allows the vine to thrive in slightly cooler climates than Cabernet Sauvignon, such as the Loire Valley. In Bordeaux, plantings of Cabernet Franc are treated as an "insurance policy" against inclement weather close to harvest that may damage plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Dominant Flavor



 Its early budding does pose the viticultural hazard of coulure early in the growing season. The vine is vigorous and upright, with dark-green, 5-lobed leaves. The winged bunches are elongate and small-medium in size. The berries are quite small and blue-black in color, with fairly thin skins.The Cabernet Franc grapevine is more prone to mutation than Cabernet Sauvignon, less so than Pinot Noir.

Grape of Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc can adapt to a wide variety of vineyard soil types but seems to thrive in sandy, chalk soils, producing heavier, more full bodied  wines there. In the Loire Valley terroir  based differences can be perceived between wines made from grapes grown in gravel terraces versus tuffeau slopes. The grape is highly yield sensitive, with over-cropping producing wines with more green, vegetal notes.

In many regions, it is planted as a component of a Bordeaux-style blend such as Meritage, playing secondary role to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. In parts of northeast Italy, Anjour-Saumur, Touraine and the Right-bank region of Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc both plays a more prominent role in blends and is vinified as a varietal.

In the Loire Valley the Cabernet Franc is planted mainly in Bourgueil, Chinon to end in Blois.

Loire Valley wine map 

The Cabernet Franc is often seen, especially from the people in Bordeaux, as a light version of the Cabernet Sauvignon, but in the Loire Valley it produce complex and elegant wine that can easily age for many years.

In Anjou, the cabernet Franc represent more than the third of the total vineyard plantation. Some of the best Cabernet Franc wine come from Saumur Champigny.

In Bordeaux, where the Cabernet Sauvignon represent the main varietal, the Cabernet Franc occupy a small percentage of the vineyard except for Saint-Emilion where it may reach more than 50% of the total planted vineyard with the Merlot.

Some of the top Gran Cru in St-Emilion are made of a blend of Cabernet Franc (20 to 50%) and Merlot. Cheval Blanc is made of 60% of Cabernet Franc.

 Outside France you will find Cabernet Franc in:

US: California, Washington State and Oregon.

Then Australia, Argentina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Chile, Hungary, Italy, Spain , and South Africa.

Chile: Miami Wine Buzz offer a great package in which we offer a fantastic Cabernet Franc 2012 from Curico Valley (Chile).

Chile wine region map

In Greece, the Cabernet Franc is use in the Appellation region of Cote de Meliton

In Italy the Cabernet Fran can be found in the Alto-Adige region. Then in Tuscany you will find the Cabernet Franc in some Super Tuscan like Sassicaia.

In Spain, in Galicia it is believe that the Mencia, which is a local grape use to produce mailny varietal wine is parent with the Cabernet Franc.


 The Cabernet Franc and the Food

Cabernet Franc is a food friendly wine.  Cabernet Franc based wines love food of all sort and origin. Roast chicken, pork, Beef in many ways, duck, lamb, veal, hearty fish dishes and even hard as well as soft cheese.

You need to take an extra care to the vintage. A young vintage (2014 / 2015) will be able to take on hearty recipe with some personality but after a few years in bottle the food pairing would then go towards lighter plate. The Cabernet Franc tend to age quickly and within 5 years will have silky tannin, soft aromas and a light touch of acidity just enough to keep the fruit at the end. This is obviously a general comment and Cabernet Franc evolution can vary base on origin and vintage.


The Cabernet Franc shares many of the same phenolic and aromas as the Cabernet Sauvignon but with some noticeable differences. Cabernet Franc tends to produces wines with the same level of intensity and richness. Cabernet Franc tends to have a more pronounced perfume with notes of raspberries, blackcurrant, and violet. It is often characterized by a green, vegetal strike that can range from leaves to green pepper bells. It has slightly less tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon and tends to produce a wine with a smoother mouthfeel. 

Enjoy your wine


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