Cabernet Franc

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?

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2 comments

  1. My question for you, Steven …is the cheval blanc, the chinon & others you mentioned… are they varietal bottlings… 100% cab franc… or blends? Also, for what it's worth, I've enjoyed a number of pure cab franc wines from both chile and argentina that were superb values. any thoughts?mTw

  2. Great questions Mike..I will do my best to answer them.A Cheval Blanc’s predominant grape is the Cabernet Franc with Merlot. According to my info on hand 60% is CF while Merlot is making up the rest with very small Malbec and even smaller Cab Sauv. It’s on the right bank of Gironde where Saint Emilion and Pomerol are located and Merlot flourishes but Cab doesn’t mainly because the soils on the right bank are more clayey and on the left bank more gravelly which serves to retain heat for the later ripening Cab Sauvignon.Chinon and Bourgeuil where Cab Franc is predominant in the Loire Valley can have up to 10% Cab Sauv in the bottle I guess to add some shelf life to it and for more structure. These wines are not long lived and should be drank early.As for Cab Franc from Argentina and Chile I have yet to find one here that I can drink but if you have good for you.I am sure it is of good value considering wines from these regions are less expensive than elsewhere.You have a wider selection where you are than we have to have a Cab Franc from these two countries.Cab Sauv and Malbec and Merlots we have but no Cab Franc. It is a secondary grape from that region for sure if anything.The area is not as noted for this grape variety than the aforementioned grapes. But if you have tried one from there and it is good then thanks for letting me know.Perhaps I can try one with you one day! Ha

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