Cabernet Franc is a black grape used in dry red wines. It’s a key grape in France’s Loire Valley where it’s used in varietal red wines and in blends for rosé and sparkling wines. It’s also an important variety in the famous red blends across Bordeaux.
The exact origin of Cabernet Franc is lost in the mists of time, but ampelographers believe that pilgrims brought it from Spain into southwest France from where it made its way up the Loire Valley. The first records of its plantings in Bordeaux date to the end of the 1700s.
This grape is similar to Cabernet Sauvignon in that it likes the warm gravel of Bordeaux’s Left Bank, but it can also thrive in sandy, limestone soils of the Right Bank. It buds and ripens slightly earlier than Cab Sauv.
Cabernet Franc is cultivated across Europe and the New World, largely for Bordeaux-style blends. Increasingly, winemakers are crafting varietal wines from this variety. This style is becoming popular in South Africa where this grape appears in Paarl and Stellenbosch.
Wine from Cabernet Franc are often overshadowed by Cabernet Sauvignon, but this hasn’t stopped the growth in its popularity. It’s a worthwhile grape to explore both in rich blends, vibrant varietal wines, and fresh rosés.
Fun Fact: Cabernet Franc is a parent of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère and Merlot.