Originating in the Bordeaux and Loire Valley regions of France this is a thin-skinned red wine grape that grows particularly well in cooler climates. It produces a fragrant and fruity wine that is softer and more subdued than its relative, Cabernet Sauvignon. It also buds and ripens earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon and this can make it particularly useful for blending in cooler vintages when Cabernet Sauvignon may not reach full ripeness at all. Fully ripe Cabernet Franc has a lightness of touch and a silky texture.

In Bordeaux the grape is grown as an insurance against under-ripe Cabernet Sauvignon and blended (often also with Merlot) to soften the resultant wine. In warmer climates, where full ripening of the grapes is the norm, it is possible to make a well-balanced single varietal wine out of both Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Argentina has such a climate and is now producing some very good 100% Cabernet Franc wines and the grape is also being used as an integral element in some classy ‘Bordeaux-blend’ Argentinian wines.

Taste

Typical aroma and flavour characteristics are of red and black berries (blueberry, raspberry and sometimes plum), a touch of herb and spice, a hint of pepper and a tinge of violet. It has also been said that the aroma is reminiscent of pencil shavings. Tannins are fine and soft.