Cabernet Franc (“cab-err-nay fronk”) is a wine that is most likely not in what is referred to as your “wine safety zone.” Unless you are intentionally trying to educate your palate and/or feel adventurous in your wine drinking we often have a tendency to stay in our wine safety zone…never or seldom tasting or ordering wines we are not familiar with. There are a lot of wines including Cabernet Franc that fall into that category. Personally, I am a fan of Cabernet Franc. Two of my Napa Valley winemaking friends, Sean Larkin and Brian Nuss both produce Napa Valley Cabernet Franc wines which are quite good. For several years we carried them on our Tiedemann Wines distribution list, but no longer offer them today.
Cabernet Franc is a red grape with a history that dates back to the mid 1500s in France. It was named Brenton back then. It is one of the oldest grape varieties in Bordeaux.
Cabernet Franc is primarily a blending grape. You can find single-varietal Cabernet Franc wines but it is used primarily for blending especially in Bordeaux-style blends.
It is used primarily for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Cabernet Franc is lighter than Cabernet in almost all respects. It is medium bodied, lighter in both color and tannins. Cabernet Franc tends to mature quicker and has a much shorter life span. The drinking window of the wine is early to medium term. I would estimate five to 10 years is a good drinking window.
Cabernet Franc has distinctive aromas of flowers, herbs and red fruits. These aromas generally develop into a wine that tastes of raspberry, red current, darker fruit and hints of herbs and black pepper. It does finish with some acidity and because it has less tannins it tends to produce a smoother mouth feel than Cabernet Sauvignon.
Due to its structure, Cabernet Franc is a wine that pairs with lighter meats like lamb, veal, chicken and even some fish. Because of its higher acidity it also pairs with tomato-based dishes, vinegar-based sauces or BBQ.
It pairs well with French cheeses such as goat cheese and Camden, and other cheeses including mild cheddar, blue cheese, parmesan and aged Swiss.
With lesser known wines, the best way to learn about them is to taste them. I think you’ll find that Cabernet Franc fits in the middle (like Merlot) between a Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon tasting profile. The wine can be very tasty and enjoyable. So the next time you are at your favorite wine shop I recommend you pick up a bottle. I certainly intend to. As always if you find one you like be sure to purchase several bottles to put in your wine collection.
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Until next week,
Calendar of Events
- May 3 – International Sauvignon Blanc Day
- May 9 – World Moscato Day
- May 23 – International Chardonnay Day
- May 25 – National Wine Day
- June 8 – National Rosé Wine Day
- June 21 – Lambrusco Day
- August 1 – International Albariño Day
- August 4 – National White Wine Day
- August 18 – International Pinot Noir Day
- August 29 – International Cabernet Day
- September 20 – International Grenache Day
- November 7 – International Merlot Day
- November 14 – International Tempranillo Day
- November 20 – International Zinfandel Day
- December 4 – Cabernet Franc Day
- December 20 – National Sangria Day
- December 31 – National Champagne Day