The lesser known of the 3 grapes that make up the Bordeaux blend , Cabernet Franc buds early and ripens early just after Merlot and before Cabernet Sauvignon. While the latter provides the structure and tannin to a Bordeaux , Merlot the softness and suppleness , our featured grape provides the aromas.
A lighter less tannic version of Cabernet Sauvignon , this grape carries with it the aromas of raspberry , some bell pepper like that of it’s big name cousin , and some pencil shavings and tobacco on the nose. Red currant is also detected.
Cabernet Franc has good ageing potential and likes a cooler climate to grow in and if you have heard of wines with such names as Chinon , Bourgeuil , St-Nicolas-de Bourgeuil , and Saumur-Champigny that come from the central part of the Loire Valley all these are of this grape.
It can grow on soils where Sauvignon cannot unless it is a very hot year , noticeably on the right bank of the Gironde River in Bordeaux where Saint Emilion is located and where Merlot is the main grape. Merlot fills in the hole left by the leaner Cabernet Franc in these parts.
Chateau Cheval Blanc , an illustrious wine from Saint Emilion is predominantly Cabernet Franc. This is this grape’s claim to fame.
So with many of the same attributes as a cool climate Cabernet Sauvignon in aromas , it has two distinct advantages for both wine growers and wine lovers. First for the wine grower is it stands a good chance of ripening where the other will not in cooler years. For the wine lover , with lower tannins , acidity , and extract it can be a more approachable wine for those who like an old world red on the medium body side. Not so big as they say.
Who likes Cabernet Franc out there especially a good Chinon?