Cabernet Franc is one of the major red grape varieties in the world. It is a related variety of Cabernet Sauvignon and can be either used alone or in blends with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Blending with Merlot is considered traditional. In a blend with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc softens the tannins and adds complexity and definition to the overall taste.
Cabernet Franc is thinner-skinned, earlier-ripening and has lower overall acidity. Cabernet Franc vines tend to survive cold winters better than Cabernet Sauvignon. However they are less resistant to Spring frosts.
If we compare Cabernet Franc with Cabernet Sauvignon wine, it is lighter in tannins, and a bit paler in color. It is characterized by definite peppery perfume and sometimes tobacco, cassis or raspberry aroma, depending of the region and winemaking techniques used. The flavor profile of Cabernet Franc is sometimes described as fruitier or more herbal than Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc has more fragrance, finesse on the palate and length on the finish.
Cabernet Franc appeared in the 18th century, in Bordeaux and Loire Valley. France has still more significant plantings of Cabernet Franc than any other wine region. Besides France, there are Cabernet Franc vineyards in Romania, Hungary, the Balkans, Italy, Spain, as well as newer plantings in Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and some of the United States, including California, Michigan, Virginia and Washington. In general, Cabernet Franc is ideally suited for warm climates with cool nights. Cabernet Franc is also used to produce ice wine, the dessert wine made from frozen grapes.
Along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc is one of the five grapes blended in most Bordeaux red wines. These are also some places where Cabernet Franc is used as a single varietal, but those are rare. Cabernet Franc ages well, though maybe not as well as Cabernet Sauvignon. During the aging process, Cabernet Franc develops subtle fleshy aromas.
Cabernet Franc pairs perfectly well with cheeses, pizza, poultry dishes, or red fish, such as tuna or salmon. Young or aged, Cabernet Franc can be enjoyed after dinner and before dessert.