Cabernet Franc is a parent of the crowd pleaser Cabernet Sauvignon, tannic Carmenereand the second most popular red grape in America, Merlot. Surprisingly enough, Cabernet Franc itself gets far less attention than its descendants, despite being quite affordable and of exceptional character.
While Cab Franc is widely known as a part of Bordeaux and Meritage blends, to which it adds some complexity alongside the peppery and earthy aromas, the grape also excels when bottled on its own.
Cabernet Franc is most famously from France, where the grapes are grown and vinified as a single variety. Later on, they are bottled under the names of Chinon and Bourgeuil. Light in colour and mild on the nose, they pack real tannins and a flavourful punch.
Unlike France, the New World adapters of Cab Franc, California, New York, and Chile, have replaced the striking earthiness with fruit flavours of cherry, blackberry, and strawberry. As a result, the wine turned into a much lighter and fruitier version of its former self.
Cabernet Franc is a medium skinned grape, therefore it presents moderate tannins in the wine. It’s easy to enjoy it with food or solo, unlike full-bodied wines like Sirah that go best with a hearty meal. If the wine undergoes the oak aging treatment for six months, which is a standard process for Cab Franc, it gains extra tannins plus extra spiciness and balance.
While most bottles of Cabernet Franc are means to be consumed in as soon as the five years, some last for up to two decades. Although some people don’t understand the fuss around old wines, it’s necessary to note that an extra decade can turn Cab Franc from a fruity wine with a slight spice aroma into a much more complex and earthy one, with hints of leather, dried fruit and even wet dirt.
The best part, it’s incredibly affordable. While the cheapest aged Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux bottles can be sold for hundreds of dollars, a bottle of aged Cabernet Franc will often cost you under $100.
Combining some of the best features of heftier reds without being overly heavy, Cabernet Franc is an excellent wine experience. If you are looking for a perfect bottle to take to a dinner party, give Cab Franc a chance, it will be worth it!