Tag Archives: Chinon

What is Cabernet Franc?? French Cabernet?

Apparently there has been some discussion/confusion recently about what Cabernet Franc is exactly.  1WineDude recently blogged about a confrontation in the PLCB (http://www.1winedude.com/index.php/2010/06/17/its-officially-time-for-the-plcb-to-die-or-there-is-no-cabernet-franc/#more-2256) and just a few days later I was involved in a discussion with a customer at the winery who insisted that Cabernet Franc was just Cabernet Sauvignon from France.  Ummm, No.

How did Cabernet Franc end up the Rodney Dangerfield of the grape world?  It gets absolutely no respect and some people, through ignorance or misinformation, would rather fight with you than open their minds to its existence.  I, personally, am a great fan of Cabernet Franc after finally discovering Chinon a couple of years ago and now working with Cabernet Franc from Knight’s Valley, CA.  My earlier days of Cabernet Franc experience (from none other than PA and New York) led me to think that the best the variety could offer was thin, weedy, bell-pepper flavored wines.  This is not at all the case nor should it be the case in PA and NY although sadly it sometimes is.

The best Cabernet Franc, to me, sends out notes of black oregano, wild blackberries, and sometimes eucalyptus with powerful ripe tannins.  Add some spicy barrel notes in and you’ve got a really nice and interesting wine that is one of my favorites to pair with venison and some other wild game meats.

Even if it wasn’t a great variety on its own, Cabernet Franc should get some respect just for fathering one of the most widely iconic grape varieties with Sauvignon Blanc; Cabernet Sauvignon.  According to Robinson’s “The Oxford Companion to Wine” Cabernet Franc is in the top 20 most planted grape varieties in the world so one would assume that anyone remotely involved in the industry would have heard that it was a separate variety.  I am aware that I (and probably the majority, if not all of you, if you’re reading this blog) are classified as high involvement consumers.  I know there are people out there (*gasp*) that do not live to study wine and its related topics, however, if you are working in a wine store, state run or not, it is your duty to understand at least the basics (and I consider the top 20 planted wine varieties in the world the basics when selling wine).

But I digress,

If you didn’t know about Cabernet Franc before now, Congratulations, you’ve just discovered a new variety to go explore and if you did, please spread the word by tasting, talking about, or purchasing Cabernet Franc based wines.  This variety needs more exposure and more respect!