Cabernet Franc

One of the major black grape varieties worldwide, Cabernet Franc is principally grown for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to produce Bordeaux. Lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, it is a bright, pale red wine that adds a peppery perfume to more robust blends, as well as notes of tobacco, raspberry, bell pepper, cassis, and violets.

In France, Cabernet Franc is found predominately in the Loire Valley and in the Libournais region of Bordeaux. As of 2000, it was the sixth most widely planted red grape variety in the country. Other areas with significant plantings include the Bergerac and Madiran Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOCs). By the early 20th century, there were nearly equal plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc in Bordeaux with around 25,000 acres by the late 1960s. Most of these plantings were along the right bank of the Gironde in the Fronsac, St-Emilion and Pomerol regions. There, it is still used today by the famous estate Chateau Cheval Blanc, which is a blend of (almost exclusively) Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Towards the end of the 20th century, even though plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon had rapidly increased in Bordeaux to a 2 to 1 ratio in proportion to Cabernet Franc, plantings there were over 35,360 acres. In the Loire Valley, Cabernet is widely planted in the Anjou, Bourgueil, Chinon, and Saumur-Champigny regions.

In Italy there are over 17,300 acres of Cabernet Franc. However, the grape variety is commonly confused with both Cabernet Sauvignon and the ancient Bordeaux grape Carmenere, so the true acreage may not be known until more vineyards have been surveyed (by ampelographers). This is much like the situation for Chardonnay in Italy. It is mostly planted in the far northeast of Italy, particularly in Friuli, but it is also found in the vineyards of the Veneto (where it is known as Bordo), and is found as part of some Chianti blends, even as far south as Apulia. Plantings of the grape variety in Tuscany have been increasing in recent years, particularly in the Bolgheri and Maremma region where the grape is prized for the balance and elegance that it brings to blends. Italians wines often labelled simply as “Cabernet” tend to be primarily Cabernet Franc or a blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

In Malta Marsovin use the grape in the ever popular Grand Maitre.