Cabernet Franc. One of the noblest of grapes, part of the quintet of Bordeaux reds and one of the parent grapes to the illustrious Cabernet Sauvignon. A black grape variety cherished by many wine industry geeks, it is somewhat lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, less tannic, usually blended into Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in Bordeaux to give it more acidity, finesse and elegance. It can be made into a 100% varietal wine, as in Loire Valley's Bourgueil and Chinon regions, as well as in many parts of the U.S. (even here locally), Argentina, Italy and beyond.
It was thought to have originated in the Libournais region in Southwestern France, and cuttings were commissioned by Cardinal Richelieu to be planted in Bourgueil, some time during the 1600s. The grape would bear the name of its keeper for a time, an Abbey named Breton, and eventually it would be grown in the Right Bank of Bordeaux (Pomerol, Saint-Emilion and Fronsac) where it would make amazing wines, including Chateau Cheval Blanc, Saint-Emilion's jewel and one of the greatest wines ever made.
Ironically, here in the U.S., it would produce soft, off-dry reds in places like Ohio and New York, lighter than their Bordeaux counterparts, and also find its way around the world, from California to Argentina. Today you can find plantings in Italy's Veneto (where it is called Bordo), Hungary, China, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, Croatia and Canada's Ontario (Niagara Peninsula) and British Columbia (Okanagan Valley).
We at Jungle Jim's love Cabernet Franc. Here are a few of our favorites:
by Kevin Keith
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