Cabernet Franc is more subtle that its slightly wilder off-spring, Cabernet Sauvignon (of which Sauvignon Blanc is the other parent). It has less pronounced acidity, body, colour and tannin than Cabernet Sauvignon, but a more pronounced floral aroma. The two grapes are often grown and blended together. It is commonly found in the Right Bank Bordeaux blends, but can also be used to make varietal wines.
The largest quantities of Cabernet Franc are grown in France, with the Loire region especially well known for its varietal wines. Italy is the next biggest producer, and it is most celebrated in Tuscany, where its wines are known as “Super Tuscans”. One of the strengths of Cabernet Franc is that it ripens earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon, and is often used as insurance against poor harvests of the latter.
In Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc has notes of blackcurrant and raspberry, but in cooler climates, such as those of the Loire Valley and north-eastern Italy, it has more herbaceous notes. It is ideal for pairing with food. It can generally be aged for around five years, or up to 15 for the finest examples.