Cabernet Franc may call France its home, but can we make great wines elsewhere. Where does Cabernet Franc grow best and thrive?
Cabernet Franc is a different animal and deserves recognition. If you were the parent of stars Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Carmenere, you would be eccentric too. It has learned to survive and thrive just about anywhere and has existed a very long time.
Cabernet Franc is unique because it can’t hide its true nature. It’s always been more peppery and lean compared to its offspring. And for this reason, most winemakers use it sparingly in blends (like with Merlot in right-bank Bordeaux or with Malbec in Argentina.)
In a blend, Cab Franc is like MSG. It transforms what might have been a boring fruit-bomb wine into something that makes us go hmmm…
It is a classic and noble grape and worthy to be aged in a cellar. Well-made Cabernet Franc wines have been noted to age well for 30+ years. It contains something for everyone. Look for a Cabernet Franc with at least 5–7 years of age. (or cellar them yourself) This gives the wine enough time in bottle to smooth out the spicy acidity and develop some smoky flavors and a dried fruit finish. Expect to spend around $20 for decent quality. Because it grows just about anywhere, it can make wines that appeal to crowds and geeks alike.
New World vs. Old World Cabernet Franc
There are two distinct styles of Cabernet Franc that have emerged based on the climate, soil, and winemaking tradition. They are “New World” and “Old World”, although some wines don’t fit into a particular style. There are two distinct styles of Cabernet Franc that have emerged based on the climate, soil, and winemaking tradition. They are “New World” and “Old World”, although some wines can fit into either style, depending on winemaking and climate. Generally speaking, the taste profile of Cabernet Franc is medium body, medium-high tannins, medium-high acidity, and 11.5-13.5% ABV with primary flavors of strawberry, raspberry, green/bell pepper, gravel, chili pepper, and bramble.
“New World Style”
Bold, Fruit-Forward Cabernet Franc
In warmer places, Cabernet Franc produces a much richer wine. It is not just the heat and sunlight hours that produce full-bodied, higher alcohol wines. Many of the most popular warm-climate Cabernet Franc regions have clay-based soils, which result in grapes with increased tannin.
With higher intensity, warm climate Cab Franc wines are often aged in oak. The oak adds baking spice and cedar flavors, with smokiness on the finish.
Overall, this style is a crowd-pleaser that appeals to many wine drinkers, but may not age as long due to lower natural acidity.
Where to Find:
Washington State (USA)
“Old World Style”
Lean, Herb-Driven Cabernet Franc
In cooler climates, like the Finger Lakes, NY, Cabernet Franc produces a much leaner, more savory wine. In the Loire Valley where this style is prevalent, the lightest and most aromatic styles (with the least color) are grown in sandy soils. It could easily be considered the signature red/black grape of the Finger Lakes, NY region, where I call home.
It is rare to find heavy-handed oak in these cooler climates because it overwhelms the wine. This style is a bit less of a crowd-pleaser because many drinkers tend to shy away from bitterness and herbal notes in wines. Old World style tends to age longer because of its increased acidity.
Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars Cabernet Franc Grapes
Where to Find:
Loire Valley (Northern France)
Finger Lakes, NY (USA)
Try this link for great info on FLX Cab Francs and past highly rated Cab Francs from the FLX, including Sheldrake Point, Lamoreaux Landing, Inspire Moore, Red Newt Cellars, etc...
Food Pairing with Cabernet Franc
Medium-bodied wines like Cabernet Franc can pair with a wide variety of foods due to their natural high acidity and slightly reduced tannin (the astringent quality in red wine). Higher acidity makes it possible to pair with tomato-based dishes, vinegar-based sauces (smoky BBQ) or rich veggies. If you learn only one tip about pairing Cabernet Franc, it is to match it with real herbs in your dish.
Meat - Roasted Pork, Beef Burgers or Stew, Meatballs in Tomato Sauce, Chicken Tomato Curry, Turkey with Cranberry, Wild Game Hens, Lamb Gyros, Crispy Skin Trout with Pork Belly, Pâté
Cheese - Goat Cheese, Ravioli, Camembert, Feta, Fontina, Cheese and Spinach Quiche
Herb/Spice - Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, Sage, Savory, Chervil, Jalapeño Pepper, Coriander, Aleppo Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes, Black Pepper
Vegetable - Red Bean, Pinto Bean, Roasted Red Pepper, Mushroom, Tomato, Eggplant, Leeks, Spinach, Arugula