We’ve arrived at our last French wine varietal day for the year: Cabernet Franc Day 2021. Below we share facts about and wine recommendations for this French varietal.
CABERNET FRANC GRAPES
- Most significant plantings are found in France
Of the 45000 hectares of cabernet franc planted around the world, 36000 hectares are in France.
Cabernet Franc is parent to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Carménère (that we told you about 10 days ago – read that article here). So, we know that these varietals are younger than Cabernet Franc.
Cabernet Franc vines have bright green 5-lobed leaves. Cabernet Franc grapes are blue-black coloured, small and have thin skins. Ripe cabernet franc vines have a “certain leafy, currant bush aroma” according to Jancis Robinson.
CABERNET FRANC WINES
- What’s in a name?
Cabernet Franc is known by several different names.
- Often found in blends
Cabernet Franc is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for Bordeaux style wines.
- But also, a wine in its own right
Wines from AOCs Saumur-Champigny, Chinon, Bourgueil and Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil are 100% cabernet franc.
- Even ice wine
Canada and the USA make ice wine from cabernet franc.
- More feminine than cabernet sauvignon
Cabernet Franc produces wines of medium body, medium to high acid, and moderate tannins. It is often seen as the feminine version of the more masculine cabernet sauvignon.
- Flavour profile
Cabernet Franc wines are a balance between red fruits, herbs, and peppery earthiness. Its dominant flavours are said to be strawberry, roasted pepper (capsicum for those of us in Australia), red plums, crushed gravel and chilli peppers.
- Taste dependent on climate
Cabernet Franc wines from cooler climates like the French Loire Valley or Ontario, Canada have more tart flavours and higher acidity compared to those from warmer areas. Warmer areas produce cabernet francs with flavours of strawberry and dried fruits.
WHERE ITS FOUND
- Where it’s grown in France
As mentioned above, Cabernet Franc is made into single varietal wines in the Loire Valley. It’s also found in Libournais within the Bordeaux wine region where it is used in the famous Bordeaux blends.
- Cabernet Franc plantings in Australia
Cabernet Franc came to Australia in James Busby’s 1832 collection of wine varietals. You’ll find it in most regions where cabernet sauvignon is grown. Cabernt Franc is found in varying Australian climates. While it is a varietal which is largely found in South Australia (McLaren Vale, the Adelaide Hills and the Clare Valley) it is also found in North-Eastern Victoria and Western Australia.
- Australia’s first cabernet franc single varietal
Paracombe Wines in the Adelaide Hills made the first cabernet franc wine from its 1993 vintage. This is thought to be the first Australian cabernet franc.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CABERNET FRANC DAY 2021
Ashleigh from Clos Cachet shares her recommendations for all budgets for Cabernet Franc Day 2021.
Which cabernet franc (for a lower budget) do you recommend for Cabernet Franc Day?
Dominique Joseph has created such a beautiful range of pure Cabernet Franc wines right in the heartland of Saumur-Champigny in Varrains. As a lively, friendly and talented winemaker his Domaine is fully organically farmed and grows 12 hectares of vineyard perfectly located over 55 different locations.
Dominique’s “Le Petit Saint Vincent” cuvée is the beginning of his range, grown on vineyards located on clay and limestone soils or yellow tuffeau with sandy influence, unique to Saumur-Champigny. I highly recommend his full collection but this is the perfect starting point for your Cabernet Franc journey.
Tasting Notes: On the nose fruity notes arise first with red fruit and it opens up to black fruits and light spice. The palate is charming, round and fruity. Best to enjoy now.
What would you eat with it?
It can be enjoyed at a barbecue, with white meat, and slightly chilled with cheese.
Which cabernet franc (for a higher budget) do you recommend for Cabernet Franc Day?
To take your Cabernet Franc experience to the next level the ‘Coteau de Noiré’ is perfect. Being the top cuvée of Domaine Alliet, the grapes originate from a single plot of vineyard, ideally located on the slope of the Chinon hill. Alliet ensures the grapes ripen perfectly in this south facing vineyard, and this wine is widely considered by critics to be in the pantheon of Chinon wines.
Tasting Notes: The nose is full and complex with notes of dark fruit, fresh coffee beans, subtle vanilla and pepper. The taste is full bodied and refined with firm tannins. This exquisite wine can cellar for more than ten years, or if you’re eager to try it early, decant for 45 minutes before serving.
What would you eat with it?
Enjoy alongside game dishes, beef stew, and strong cheeses.
Happy Cabernet Franc Day 2021! Do you have a favourite Cabernet Franc?
For more French wine varietals check out these articles: