All You Should Know About Cabernet Franc

This robust grape variety is known to produce a diverse range of good-quality wines, based on the climate. A parent grape to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, this French black grape is found in many popular Bordeaux blend wines.


The defining characteristics of Cabernet Franc are its zesty acidity and herbaceous notes. The grape produces a delicate medium-bodied dry wine with medium to high levels of tannins, depending on the climate of the region where it is being grown.

The wine produced has aromas of red fruits like raspberry and strawberry. Warmer climate expressions may also have aromas like cayenne pepper and dried fruits, while those from cooler climates have notes of pencil lead and red liquorice. The grape variety contains significant levels of an aromatic organic compound methoxypyrazine which gives it a distinct bell-pepper aroma. This compound is also found in higher quantities in other wine grapes grown in the Bordeaux region like Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Carménère.

High-quality expressions of Cabernet Franc have an ageing potential of 10 years, during which it develops savoury notes.


While it is largely used in Bordeaux blends, single-varietal Cabernet Franc wines are made in different regions like Loire in France, Lodi in California and Fruili in Italy.

Libournais in the Bordeaux region of France is the home of this grape variety. Some of the most acclaimed expressions of the grape, like Cheval Blanc and Ausone, come from villages like Pomerol and Saint-Émilion in Libournais.  Most Cabernet Franc dominant wines come from the Right Bank of the Bordeaux region. These full-bodied wines have high levels of tannin which gives them good ageing potential.

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In Loire Valley, which is a cool climate wine region in northern France, the grape produces lighter styles of wine that are low on tannin and have red fruit flavours along with floral and herby notes. The best-known appellation for Cabernet Franc in Loire Valley is Chinon AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) which produces great expressions with aromas of fresh red fruits like raspberry and sour cherry, herby notes of roasted red pepper, jalapeño, dried oregano, and wet gravel.

 Other appellations in Loire Valley worth mentioning are Saumur AOC and Saumur-Champigny AOC which are known to produce wines with aromas of ripe berries and sweet spices.



Cabernet Franc is used in red Bordeaux blends along with other varieties of wine grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and small quantities of Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carménère. It lends tannins and acidity to the structure of the blend. You’ll find Cabernet Franc-dominant blends mostly on the Right Bank of the region. These full-bodied wines have a good ageing potential due to high levels of tannin.

The Anjou-Saumur region of Loire Valley produces a dry style of rosé wine called Rosé de Loire, which must have 30 percent of Cabernet France and/or Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. The region also has two other appellations for different styles of rosé, of which, Cabernet d’Anjou is of the highest quality. This medium-sweet style of wine is made from a blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The other popular rosé worth mentioning is Rosé d’Anjou, which is less sweet and made with a blend that primarily consists of Grolleau grape, along with Cabernet Franc and other local varieties.

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Zesty style

This is the best and highest quality style that retains the red pepper and raspberry sauce character of Cabernet Sauvignon with a long tingly finish. These wines have high acidity and grippy tannins that help them age beautifully for more than 10 years.

Fruit forward style

This style has bursting flavours of fruit with strawberry compote, green peppercorn, and cedar.

Storage and Service

Serving temperature – 13 to 15 °C

Glass type – Standard red wine glass

Food Pairing

Cabernet Franc is a food-friendly wine. There are numerous ways you can easily match Cabernet Franc-based wines with different varieties of food. You can pair it with gamey meats like venison and duck or lean white meat dishes like roast chicken and fish tacos. Due to its high acidity, the wine pairs really well with dishes that have a tomato-based sauce- like pasta in Arrabbiata sauce and eggplant parmigiana. In the case of wines with a pronounced herbaceous flavour, go for dishes that are loaded with fresh herbs. Full-bodied Bordeaux blends, on the other hand, will work well with a roasted lamb or a hearty lentil stew.

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