GRAPE VARIETIES – Cabernet Franc

Love it or hate it… it will never leave you indifferent!!!

As a vine and a wine, Cabernet Franc likes really warm and dry summers. It likes to be harvested when it is fully ripe, giving a lightness and silkiness of its tannins to the tasters. It is elegant and extremely high-class!

It is with Cabernet Franc that learner wine drinkers can really understand the need for vintages.

Good, warm, dry vintages make just wonderful Cabernet Franc. Flavours can fluctuate from Bell peppers to raspberries, cassis, violets and tobacco if its oaked.

Wet and/or cool vintages can make astringent, stringy, green wines.

Cabernet Franc is the main single-varietal produced in the Loire Valley.

It is the varietal for Chinon, Bourgueil, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Saumur, Saumur Champigny, Anjou, Anjou-Villages, and to a lesser degree, Touraine (Touraine also produces red wine from Côt aka Malbec and Gamay)


Cabernet Franc is a red grape variety that apparently has its origins in the Spanish Pays Basque country and was brought to the Bordeaux area in the 1st century by the pilgrims of St. James of Compostela. It may even be the very first red varietal planted in the Bordeaux area.

Little is known about the very early days of this varietal. However, they do know that it was first planted in the Loire Valley around the 11th century and was probably the first red grape variety known to be grown there.

It was very much appreciated by the Cardinal Richelieu in the 17th century. He may have been the person who transported cuttings to the monastry in Fontevrault near Saumur, Loire Valley. The Abbot’s name was “Breton”  and to this day Breton is the local name for Cabernet Franc. Apparently, Abbot Breton distributed it generously around the area.

Cabernet Franc is lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, although they found by DNA testing, around 1997,  that it is  one of its parents and that sometime over the past 1000 years Cabernet Franc had been crossed with Sauvignon Blanc to make Cabernet Sauvignon!

Cabernet Franc ripens sooner than Cabernet Sauvignon so is the preferred varietal for most of the Loire Valley growers in warmer years. It is lighter, the colour more of ruby red rather than dark, inky red. It is still very much used for blending in Pomerol and St. Emilion around the southwest region of France.

The Loire Valley, however, uses it as its flagship red wine!

On this website you can taste the Cabernet Franc based wines by following this link: