Cabernet Franc – A Starter Guide

Happy Weekend,

Let me be franc frank:

Cabernet Franc is a wine variety you should know.

Especially as the weather gets cooler and the holidays approach. It’s a food friendly wine that would fit nicely on the Thanksgiving table. But then again, it could be a once-in-a-lifetime wine.

Here’s everything you need to know to get started exploring Cabernet Franc.

Bit Of Cabernet Franc History

Cabernet Franc played second fiddle for far too long in Bordeaux. It was completely overshadowed by its child: Cabernet Sauvignon (Cabernet Franc + Sauvignon Blanc).

Cabernet Franc served as an insurance policy for Cabernet Sauvignon. It buds and ripens earlier than its baby boy, which can help during cooler seasons.

But, thankfully, there are plenty who believe that Cabernet Franc can stand alone.

As a result, it’s planted throughout the world where it makes many different styles.

Styles of Cabernet Franc

Because of its relationship to Bordeaux, you often find Cabernet Franc in regions that grow Cabernet Sauvignon. These tends to be big, bold examples from Napa Valley and Tuscany. Delicious in their own right, they are typically very expensive.

I prefer my Cabernet Franc more lean—in style and price—and a bit green.

Yes, Cabernet Franc often has aromas of green bell pepper or green peppercorn (this is non-fruit I mentioned last week).

These wines are great with a slight chill on them.

Where Cabernet Franc Grows

Outside of the Bordeaux-blend focused regions mentioned above, Cab Franc is found the world over.

But here are the 3 can’t miss stops for beginners looking to explore the grape variety:

The Loire Valley

Somehow, the Loire Valley is still underrated as a wine region.

The best examples of Cabernet Franc come from here, and they have good aging potential. You’ll want to explore sub-regions like Chinon, Saumur-Champigny, and Bourgueil.

Upstate New York and Canada

The cooler temps of upstate New York are perfect for making delicious Cabernet Franc.

In Canada, Cabernet Franc is used to make ice wine—frozen grapes are harvested to make a sweet, complex dessert wine.

South America

Chile and Argentina offer great examples. A bit warmer than other locations, but altitude and ocean breezes help keep Cab Franc from getting overripe.

Brazil is making Cabernet Franc too. So, consider grabbing some for Carnivale Franc.

Cabernet Franc To Try

What’s amazing about Cabernet Franc is that you can get some truly great wine for under $30. Few other varieties can deliver such high quality at that price point.

These are some of my favorite Cabernet Francs which consistently put a smile on my face.

Bernard Baudry Chinon Les Granges
– Loire Valley –

Put a chill on it and enjoy. This is one of those wines I buy over and over again. Why? At around 25 USD, it never disappoints and goes well with nearly anything on your table.

Hermann Wiemer Cabernet Franc
– New York –

I downed a bottle of this last year during the holidays. It took a couple hours, but there was so much to discover in my glass.

Casa de Uco El Salvaje Cabernet Franc
– Argentina –

A new addition to my list. This wine from Argentina offers all the things I love about Cab Franc at a crazy price 13-15 USD.

Field Recordings Cabernet Franc
– California –

Andrew Jones is a special wine maker. This is a lot like the Argentina version, but a bit more expensive (thanks America). But, it’s consistent and a great introduction to his winemaking style.

Once In A Lifetime Cabernet Franc

While there are amazing Cab Francs available for a very modest budget. There are some wines that will break the bank.

Both of these wines are still on my “try before you die” list, and they are worth rubbing elbows with wine people to get a taste.

Clos Rougeard

Clos Rougeard has obtained a cult level obsession. But compared to other wines that people lose their mind over, it’s still available at a fraction of the cost comparatively.

So, if you have a spare bottle or a couple hundred dollars lying around, let’s hang out.

Inniskillin Ice Wine Cabernet Franc

Dessert wine is even more underrated than Cab Franc. For 100 USD, you can have a magical end to your meal or your evening.

Consider this for a special occasion.

Cabernet Franc In A Nutshell

Here are the essentials on Cabernet Franc:

  1. It offers value as a stand alone variety.
  2. It can help you discover wines and styles throughout the world.
  3. Served with a chill, it’s very food friendly.

This Week’s Free-Run Juice

Free-run juice is a wine term for the grape juice that comes from their own weight prior to pressing. These are weekly tidbits that came out from my own wine exploring.

State by State Wine Exploration?

Andre is back! And he’s trying wine in every state. This is part 1, and I love his insights and takeaways even as he tries things he doesn’t like.

His positive attitude is one we could all do better to exemplify as we explore new wines.

The Beaujolais Defensive

If you think I’m adamant about Cabernet Franc, just wait until November. Beaujolais rocks, and I’ll be telling you all about it very soon.

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