Variety Focus: Cabernet Franc
In the Variety Focus portion of Sedimentality, we focus on one varietal at a time, highlighting the grape’s origin, flavor profile and pairings. We also include some of our (decently priced) favorite wines made from this varietal, in case our readers would like to sample a well-made example of the highlighted grape. Our Variety Focus begins with Cabernet Franc, a grape that is ubiquitous in the Bordeaux region, but receives little attention because it is often blended with other varietals. We hope that you enjoy!
It may play second fiddle to Cabernet Sauvignon, but Cabernet Franc lovers will tell you that Cab Franc’s floral nose and peppery finish give the grape an appeal of its own.
The comparison of flavors is understandable: in many ways Cabernet Franc does possess many of the same qualities as the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. This is incredibly interesting because the two are so closely related: at some point in history, Cabernet Franc crossed with Sauvignon Blanc to create Cabernet Sauvignon.
The parent grape exhibits many of its offspring’s trademark qualities, but on a milder level: it is a little less full-bodied, has lower tannins and acids. But Cabernet France also has a stronger aroma and more herbaceous qualities and often exudes a beautiful, floral aroma and a peppery finish. It is rarely grown by itself (because it is typically harvested one week before Cabernet Sauvignon, and because Cabernet Franc gives the wine a beautiful fragrance and finesse, it is a great grape to grow alongside this world red wine leader, and as a general rule it is always blended with other Bordeaux grapes). However, several producers do bottle predominantly Cabernet Franc wines.
The origin of Cabernet Franc is unknown, but it is believed to have originated in France. Cabernet Franc was first recorded in the 17th century when its cuttings were transported from the Libournais region of southern France to the Loire Valley.
Although Cabernet Franc is primarily known as a blending grape that is used in Bordeaux wines, it is also grown in the Chinon region of France and bottled as 100% Cabernet France in California, Washington State, Argentina, Chile, Australia.
Cabernet Franc often exhibits bell pepper, raspberry, violet and tobacco aromas, has flavors of raspberry, flowers, strawberries, plums and cherries and and has a peppery finish.
A classic Cabernet Franc food pairing is warm toasted walnuts, pears and blue cheese crumbles. (Try it on a pizza!) Other great pairings include other ripe cheeses, tomato sauces, heavy game and Mediterranean food.
Cabernet Franc should be served between 65 and 70 degrees. Serving it colder will stifle the delicate floral aromas and flavors and serving it warmer will make it seem more fruity and less dry.
Want to learn a little more about other grape varietals in their pure, unblended form? Check out the Variety Focus section of Sedimentality for more information on the history, origin, flavor profiles and pairings for the world’s major grape varietals.