Unfold the secrets of Cabernet Franc, an aromatic red variety worth exploring.
Among red wine grapes, Cabernet Franc is a variety that makes sensational and refreshing wines. Thanks to its rich acidity, in some cold climate regions such as the Loire Valley it has been vinified alone for centuries, producing very easy to drink, juicy wines to drink chilled. Most of the time, though, Cabernet Franc plays a secondary role in Bordeaux-style blends like Marques de Casa Concha Etiqueta Negra.
A little history
It is believed that this red grape variety comes from the French area of the Basque Country that borders Spain, where it was found hundreds of years ago. It originated some of the most important varieties in the world. For example, Cabernet Sauvignon was born in 1700 from the crossing of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, and Merlot appeared from its cross with Magdeleine Noire. Carmenère originated thanks to Cabernet Franc’s union with Gros Cabernet.
At the beginning of the 20th century, this variety was widely planted in the Bordeaux area, to be added to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blends. In these mixes Cabernet Franc is the main complementary variety as it provides freshness and finesse. This can be appreciated in Gravas Cabernet Sauvignon, an outstanding wine with D.O Puente Alto that contains 10% of Cabernet Franc, which produces a velvety tannin texture.
Later, the variety spread to other countries such as Italy, Spain, Hungary and Slovenia. In New World countries it developed more sparingly in the United States, New Zealand, Argentina and Chile.
Cabernet Franc is an extremely aromatic grape. It delivers notes of raspberry, cassis and tobacco, great acidity, fine tannins and a medium body. This grape can adapt to different types of climates, including cold ones. Its skin is thin and rich in polyphenols, which is why it can produce herbal aromas of roasted peppers and mint, but also graphite. Its skin also causes wine to slightly paler in relation to other reds, with moderate tannins.
When Cabernet Franc is vinified alone, wines are characterized by their aromas of red fruits such as cherries, strawberries, raspberries and a little tomato. While their features can remind of Cabernet Sauvignon, these wines are much lighter and fresher thanks to their distinctive minty note.
When used in blends, such as the famous Pomerol and Saint-Émilion appellations, Cabernet Franc helps soften the characteristics of robust wines, providing freshness and finesse.
Thanks to their medium body, Cabernet Francs can work very well with some dishes that are difficult to pair. Roasted vegetables such as peppers and aubergines are a good pairing, just like game meats with fine herbs, or tomato-based dishes. For blends such as Gravas Cabernet Sauvignon or Marques de Casa Concha Etiqueta Negra, pastas with various sauces, terrines, pates, cheeses or roasted meats with herbs such as bay leaves, thyme and bay leaves are recommended.