Cabernet Franc can trace its lineage back to the same region that birthed other great grapes such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, the region of Bordeaux. However, much like Malbec, it was a minority player until recently.
Historically, Cabernet Franc was primarily used as the third and smallest minority ingredient in the production of the coveted Bordeaux blend, contributing finesse to the wine by adding a peppery, earthy and herbaceous component, even when it may make up as little as 5 percent of the blend.
But over the past few decades the grape has begun to be used to create fantastic 100 percent Cabernet Franc wines, thriving particularly well in regions such as California, Washington State and New York. New York State in particular is producing some very interesting Cabernet Franc, with many proclaiming it the signature grape of Long Island’s North Fork wine region.
The aroma of the wine is considered spicy, with additional smells of violets and tobacco and vegetal flavors of green pepper. Many also call Cabernet Franc’s distinct flavor stalky, which is when something smells or tastes of the stem or leaves of a green plant.
Cabernet Franc’s vegetal characteristics make it the perfect complement to gamey meats such as lamb, rabbit, duck and venison, but it’s just as at home with turkey and chicken as well.
It’s a great food wine, and can also be very interesting when drunk on its own.