Let’s Raise a Glass to Cabernet Franc

by Concha Hierro
Cabernet Franc Grapes

Cabernet Franc Grapes

December 4th is Cabernet Franc Day! This red grape variety is often underrated compared to other world-renowned and more widely planted varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, but… did you know that Cabernet Sauvignon wouldn’t even exist without it?

Many people are unaware of the close relationship between the two, but genetic studies have shown that it’s the cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc that gave rise to Cabernet Sauvignon.

This Cabernet Franc Day, we’d like to tell you about the varietal’s history and give you some tips to help you choose a great bottle of wine.

A Brief History of Cabernet Franc’s Origin

It was in the 17th century, Aquitaine, France, when the crossbreeding between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc took place. This resulted in a new variety that had not existed until then – Cabernet Sauvignon.

None of this would have been possible without Cardinal Richelieu. It was he who transported the first Cabernet Franc cuttings from the Loire Valley to Bordeaux, where they were planted shortly afterwards, mainly in areas such as Pomerol, Saint-Émilion and Fronsac.

Today, both Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are, together with Merlot, the varieties that make up the majority of red blends in Bordeaux.

But Cabernet Franc wines are not only found in France. If we travel to remote places such as the Ningxia region in China, we will also find vineyards planted with this variety, and in Mendoza, Argentina, where it’s gaining more and more importance among winemakers.

It’s also easy to find in countries such as Spain, Italy, Chile, Slovenia, Hungary, South Africa and Bulgaria, and even in the United States and Canada, where they make ice wine with it.

What’s so Special about Cabernet Franc?

Cabernet Franc can deliver splendid and very pleasant red wines, capable of surprising wine lovers all over the world.

British wine critic Jancis Robinson believes that it “tends to beat Cabernet Sauvignon in aromas, elegance and charm”.

Moreover, it’s common to find wines made from this variety at a lower price than others made from world-renowned Cabernet Sauvignon. Often the less widespread grapes offer incredibly good value for money.

How to Choose a Good Bottle

Now we just need to try it to enjoy the different aromas, flavours and textures of the wines made from this variety around the world.

Bur first it might be useful to have some knowledge about the aromatic profile that differentiates them so that we can choose a bottle we’re likely to enjoy.

  • Loire, France: a very characterisitc taste similar to red pepper
  • Lodi, California: aromas of strawberry jam
  • Friuli, Italy: leather notes

In all of them, regardless of where they’re from, we’ll appreciate good acidity and tannins – that astringent texture in the mouth that many red wines give. You’ll also find that many of them offer good ageing potential, sometimes up to 15 years.

Browse Drinks&Co‘s selection of Cabernet Franc wines today and find your favourite!

Translated by Chelsea Cummings from Concha Hierro’s original Spanish article: ¡Brindemos por la Cabernet Franc!.

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