Grape Varieties C-D Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc Wine

Cabernet Franc is a black-skinned French wine grape variety grown in most wine producing nations. The variety is most famously known as the third grape of Bordeaux and can be found in many of the world's top Bordeaux Blend wines. It most commonly appears in blended red wines, where it adds herbaceous accents of tobacco and dark spice. 

Its varietal wines are light to medium bodied and often show vegetal characteristics, in particular green bell peppers. This has led many wine drinkers to incorrectly identify Cabernet Franc as unripe Cabernet Sauvignon, or even Carmenère. This has been highlighted in Friuli, Italy, where plantings thought to be Cabernet Franc were later classified as Carmenere.

Cabernet Franc Grapes

Cabernet Franc is commonly compared to Cabernet Sauvignon, which is not without justification. Along with Sauvignon Blanc, the former is a parent of the latter. (Recent DNA profiling has also shown that Cabernet Franc is also one of Merlot's parents).

However, Cabernet Franc ripens at least a week earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon. While it has thinner skin and lower acidity, it is also known for its hardiness and often grown as an "insurance" grape.

Cabernet Franc's home is widely accepted as Libournais in Bordeaux. Within this sub-region are the prestigious villages of Pomerol and Saint-Émilion, which is where some of the most highly regarded Cabernet Franc wines originate. Examples include Cheval Blanc (typically around two-thirds Cabernet Franc) and Ausone (which is an even split of Cabernet Franc and Merlot).

The variety prefers cool, inland climates such as the Loire Valley. The appellations of Chinon (in Touraine) along with Saumur and Saumur-Champigny (in Anjou) are important bastions of varietal Cabernet Franc wines. The wines are prized for their aromas of ripe berry and sweet spices. Top examples can also be found in the Anjou Villages appellation, and in Bourgueil and Saint-Nicolas de Bourgeil in Touraine. (That said, all of these AOCs do permit minority portions of other varieties.)

Lighter examples from these regions generally exhibit graphite and red licorice notes, with darker wines showing more cigar and leather aromas.

The local Loire Valley name for Cabernet Franc is Breton. This is not a reference to Bretagne, the region just northwest of the Loire, but the name of the man credited with bringing the variety to popularity in the 17th Century. Abbot Breton of Bourgueil Abbey planted and tended to his vines with such care that local vine growers followed his lead. They began producing what was to become the Loire Valley's signature style of red wine. (© Proprietary Content, Wine-Searcher)

Outside France, Cabernet Franc is grown in Italy, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and the Americas. In Canada, it is produced as a dry red wine, but perhaps more interestingly as an icewine in Ontario. Further south, in the United States, it is grown in California, Washington State and Long Island, most often to feature in Bordeaux-style blends.

In Argentina the variety has long featured – albeit on a smaller scale – alongside other Bordeaux varieties. As of 2017 it accounted for less than one percent of the red grapes grown here. However this still means there were 1042 hectares (2577 acres) recorded in 2017. Furthermore it is proving increasingly popular as a solo performer. Chile has over 1200ha (2965 acres) planted to the variety, though it is less common as a single varietal wine.

Synonyms include: Bordo, Bouchet, Bouchy, Breton, Cabernet Franco, Cabernet Frank.

Food matches for Cabernet Franc include:

  • Rabbit rillettes
  • Lentil soup with smoked ham hock
  • Herb-crusted lamb rack
Production by region Expand/collapse

Most Popular Cabernet Franc Wine

Based on search frequency, updated monthly
Wine Name
Avg Price
Le Macchiole 'Paleo' Bolgheri, Tuscany, Italy Bolgheri 612th 94 $107
Clos Rougeard Saumur-Champigny, Loire, France Saumur-Champigny 782nd 90 $258
Clos Rougeard Saumur-Champigny Le Bourg, Loire, France Saumur-Champigny 1,009th 93 $566
Clos Rougeard Saumur-Champigny Les Poyeux, Loire, France Saumur-Champigny 1,411th 92 $358
Marchesi Antinori Tenuta Guado al Tasso Matarocchio Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany, Italy Bolgheri 2,008th 94 $428
Olga Raffault Chinon Les Picasses, Loire, France Chinon 2,633rd 90 $36
Duemani 'Duemani' Cabernet Franc Costa Toscana IGT, Tuscany, Italy Costa Toscana IGT 2,729th 94 $114
Domaine Charles Joguet Chinon Clos de la Dioterie, Loire, France Chinon 3,601st 92 $52
Bodega Aleanna 'Gran Enemigo' Chacayes Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc, Tunuyan, Argentina Los Chacayes 4,165th 93 $52
Thierry Germain Domaine des Roches Neuves Saumur-Champigny Les Memoires, Loire, France Saumur-Champigny 4,185th 93 $45
Bodega Aleanna 'El Enemigo' Cabernet Franc, Mendoza, Argentina Mendoza 4,415th 91 $26
Poggio al Tesoro 'W' Dedicato a Walter Cabernet Franc Toscana IGT, Tuscany, Italy Toscana IGT 4,439th 92 $128
Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Icewine, Niagara Peninsula, Canada Niagara Peninsula 4,707th 90 $195
Gere Attila Pinceszete & Weninger Selection Cabernet Franc, Villany, Hungary Villany-Siklos 4,957th 88 $33
Bernard Baudry Chinon La Croix Boissee, Loire, France Chinon 5,624th 92 $34
Bodega Aleanna 'Gran Enemigo' El Cepillo Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc, San Carlos, Argentina San Carlos 5,763rd 94 $66
Couly-Dutheil Chinon Clos de l'Echo, Loire, France Chinon 5,844th 90 $30
Domaine Charles Joguet Chinon Les Varennes du Grand Clos, Loire, France Chinon 6,288th 91 $41
Catherine et Pierre Breton Bourgueil Les Perrieres, Loire, France Bourgueil 6,449th 90 $52
Gauthier Pere et Fils Domaine du Bel Air Bourgueil Clos Nouveau, Loire, France Bourgueil 6,514th 91 $78
Philippe Alliet Chinon Coteau de Noire, Loire, France Chinon 7,164th 92 $36
Bernard Baudry Chinon Les Grezeaux, Loire, France Chinon 7,240th 91 $23
Bernard Baudry Chinon Le Clos Guillot, Loire, France Chinon 7,371st 91 $29
Lise & Bertrand Jousset 'Exile' Rose Petillant, Loire, Vin de France Vin de France - Vin de Table 7,622nd 89 $26
Clau de Nell Anjou Cabernet Franc, Loire, France Anjou 7,679th 90 $36
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