Cabernet Franc has extreme historical, biological, and cultural significance. The grape is the father and grandfather of some of the most commonly used and known grapes today. These include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Carmenere. Cabernet Franc has been grown in France as a blending grape for centuries, but other places such as Argentina and the United States have started to experiment with single-varietal styles.
Cabernet Franc produces extremely interesting, balanced, and tasty wines. It has a medium-full body, high acidity, moderate tannins, and moderate-high alcohol.
Red fruits, bell pepper, and floral-vegetal characteristics are common with Cabernet Franc. Different regions might produce varying styles based on these characteristics due to climate, oak, and other factors, but they are all known for being somewhat funky.
In today’s world and ‘modern’ history, France is the dominant player in Cabernet Franc. While the grape has been an integral part of Bordeaux, the Loire Valley is where single-varietal Cabernet Franc thrives. The biggest AOC in France to look out for is Chinon, which is known for producing some of the best Cabernet Franc in the world.
Tuscany, Italy is another European destination known for Cabernet Franc. Bottles labeled as “Super Tuscan” are where you are most likely to find Italian Cabernet Franc. These are produced outside the guidelines of DOG and DOGC, which is partly where “Super Tuscan” comes from.
California has slowly started picking up on the domestic interest in single-varietal Cabernet Franc in the United States. Napa, Sonoma, and other regions of the state are producing interesting and tasty styles of the grape. They are filled with pepper, spices, ripe fruit, and oaky notes. A great place to start with California Cabernet Franc is Alexander Valley Vineyard’s beautiful, funky style.
Argentina has slowly started coming into the spotlight for their Cabernet Franc. The country’s diverse wine regions provide an excellent climate for the varietal with access to cooler temperatures and plenty of high altitudes. While Argentina is typically considered a new world country in wine terms, its Cabernet Franc tends to reflect its ancestral French origins. The grape is grown throughout the country with many coming out of Mendoza, but the region of San Juan heavily focuses on the grape.