Description 1 of 2

Name of varietal: Cabernet Franc

Common synonyms: breton, bouchy, bidure, bouchet, cabernet franco, capbreton rouge, kaberne frank, noir dur
 
Parentage of the grape: it’s a chicken or egg scenario. Cab Franc has been determined as one of the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon (the other is Sauvignon Blanc). 
 
History of the grape: References to it in the Loire region of France date as far back as the mid 12th century. But its historic moment came In the 17th century when Cardinal Richelieu selected it for the garden of Abbaye de St. Nicolas de Bourgeuil, where it was attended by an abbot named Breton (hence the local synonym). Plantings spread into Bordeaux in the 18th century, where it met its life partner Sauvignon Blanc, and Cabernet Sauvignon came into existence. It is now mostly used as a blending grape there. However in the Loire and Southwest France, it is still vinified as a varietal wine in the likes of Bourgeuil, Chinon, Tauraine, Saumur, Anjou and the few reds of Sancerre. Eventually it was brought into other parts of Europe (some say the Spanish Mencia grape in Bierzo is a direct descendant) and other parts of the world. Today it is a popular varietal in many parts of the world, Old and New.
 
Characteristics of the grape: medium to dark-bodied, dark, plum, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, sage, bay leaf, rosemary, tobacco, bell pepper, violets, eucalyptus.
 
Regions where the grape currently is important: Bordeaux and Southwest France, particularly the Loire. California, Washington, Oregon, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Canada, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, Italy, Hungary, Croatia, Romania.
 
Type or types of wines the grape produces: dry red wine, sweet dessert wine, rosé, ice wine (Canada). Bordeaux blends and Meritage (USA). Note: really lovely served with a slight chill. 
 
– Description from Amanda Schuster

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Description 2 of 2

(aka. Bouchet, Breton, Carmenet, Grosse-Vidure)

In North America, this close cousin of Cabernet Sauvignon has adapted well to cooler areas, especially the northeast and Great Lakes regions. In particular, Long Island, with its maritime-moderated climate, has produced excellent Cabernet Franc.

With a climate similar to Bordeaux's -- and the successful presence of other Bordeaux cepages, like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot -- Long Island may be the best region in North America to emulate the style of real claret. In Canada, Cab Franc has progressed well on the Niagara Peninsula, as both a varietal wine and as a component of Bordeaux-type blends. Recent research has shattered long-held beliefs about the relationship between Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. It now appears that Cabernet Sauvignon is actually the progeny of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, and not vice-versa, as previously believed. Nevertheless, Cabernet Franc takes a back seat to Cabernet Sauvignon everywhere that they grow side-by-side. This secondary role does not diminish the importance of Cabernet Franc. The often overly austere and closed nature of Cabernet Sauvignon (particularly in youth) benefits from complementary varieties like Cabernet Franc, which can mitigate these hard, unpleasant qualities. Cab Franc tends to be less deeply pigmented, more obviously aromatic and fruity in youth, with suggestions of raspberries, violets, currants and herbs. When blended with the more astringent Cabernet Sauvignon, this less tannic grape also allows some of Cabernet Sauvignon’s more reclusive charms to present themselves. The importance of this blending grape role has been understood for well over a century in the Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated wines of Bordeaux’s left bank. However, this was only a recent epiphany to most New World Cabernet specialists, such as those in California. Wherever Cabernet Franc makes a solo appearance -- as in the central Loire appellations of Chinon and Bourgueil -- the grape (known there as Breton) makes leaner, fresher styles of Cabernet, designed for earlier consumption. In cooler regions, Cabernet Franc’s earlier ripening is a significant advantage over Cabernet Sauvignon, which may not fully ripen. It is this ecological factor that makes Cabernet Franc the preferred Cabernet in the shorter season of cool-climate vineyards.


Although rarely the center of attention, Cabernet Franc, your congenial nature makes you a pleasure to be with. You’re equally good company for your coarse and bitter cousin Sauvignon, as well as with the charming and curvaceous Merlot. Better yet is when you politely amuse the pair in a Meritage made in heaven. Your genteel manner has been evident since your youth. In fact, some would say you’re mature beyond your years. You are graceful and elegant, with a rather lean physique and a fresh attitude. It has been said -- very discreetly of course – that your nature is a little on the perfumy side. – Description from Appellation America (view original content)

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