What is Cabernet Franc?

Cabernet Franc is a distinguished and fragrant red grape variety, widely planted but often overshadowed by its more famous genetic offspring Cabernet Sauvignon.

What does Cabernet Franc taste like? 

Cabernet Franc displays bright red berry fruit with a leafy aroma and often a savoury hint of pencil shavings. Lighter bodied and less tannic than Cabernet Sauvignon, it brings freshness and elegance to a Bordeaux blend. These attributes are also prized in warmer climates, even if Cabernet Franc shows a richer character here.  

Where is Cabernet Franc from?  

Cabernet Franc is thought to have Basque origins, but by the 18th century this variety had already travelled via south-west France to become an important component in Bordeaux. It has an even longer, successful history in the Loire, in appellations like Saumur, Chinon and Bourgueil. 

Where does Cabernet Franc grow?

Cabernet Franc ripens earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon, allowing it to perform well in slightly cooler regions. This factor has helped make the variety a major component of many Bordeaux Right Bank blends and explains its significant plantings in the Middle Loire, Frnce. In warmer climates, Cabernet Franc’s ability to retain freshness is particularly prized in the Super Tuscans of Bolgheri, Italy, and Villány in Hungary. The grape is now found across the globe, usually with a supporting role in Bordeaux-style blends. Cabernet Franc also shines in regions too cool to reliably ripen Cabernet Sauvignon, most notably Washington State and New York State, as well as Niagara in Canada. 

Famous Cabernet Franc regions: 

  • Bordeaux, France 
  • Loire, France 
  • Tuscany, Italy 
  • Friuli, Italy 
  • Villány, Hungary 
  • Niagara, Canada 
  • Washington State, USA 
  • Mendoza, Argentina 

Anything else? 

Cabernet Franc’s bright fruit and moderate tannins lend themselves to making crisp rosé, a speciality of the Loire. Its lighter red wines, served cool, can be an excellent match with strawberries. 

Our selection of great Cabernet Franc 

  • Château Cheval Blanc, St Emilion, France 
  • Domaine Filliatreau, Saumur-Champigny, France 
  • Yannick Amirault, Bourgeuil, France 
  • Tenuta di Trinoro, Tuscany, Italy 
  • Warwick Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa 

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