What is Cabernet Franc?

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  • Written By: Niki Foster
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2019
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Cabernet Franc is one of the most widely grown and commercially important red grape varieties in the world. It is usually used in wine blends with Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot grapes, but is also used to make ice wine, a type of dessert wine made from grapes frozen on the vine in Canada and the United States. Cabernet Franc is lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, and produces a lighter-colored wine when used alone. The Cabernet Sauvignon grape is a crossbreed of the Cabernet Franc and the Sauvignon Blanc, a white grape variety.

The Cabernet Franc grape originated in the Loire Valley of France, and was transported to the Bordeaux region by the 18th century. The vine can grow in a variety of soil types and can grow in cooler climates than Cabernet Sauvignon. It produces small, very dark grapes with thin skins, which ripen at least a week earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Because it is a bit hardier than other grape varieties, Cabernet Franc is grown in the Bordeaux region partly as insurance against bad weeather that may damage Cabernet Sauvignon grapes around harvest time.


Cabernet Franc is currently grown as a wine grape in many countries, including France, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Kosovo, and Slovenia in Europe. It is also grown in Canada and many areas of the United States, as well as in China, Kazakhstan, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa. There are many different names for the grape, depending upon where is is grown. Some of its alternate names are Cabernet Gris, Aceria, Bouchet, and Trouchet Noir.

The flavor of the Cabernet Franc is light and smooth, but complex, and it is often used to lend complexity to blends. Its flavor profile often includes berries, black currents, pepper, and graphite. Sometimes it also has notes of violet, tobacco, green leaves or bell peppers, coffee, and olive. Cabernet Franc is less acidic than many other types of red grape.


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