Outside of the Loire, Cabernet Franc often gets overlooked for the ‘other’ Cabernet, but this light, fresh and juicy grape is proving its versatility in top-rated wines spanning Argentina, Italy, USA and South Africa…
Cabernet Franc has long since found fame in the wines of France’s Loire Valley – the grape of wines labelled Chinon, Bourgueuil, Saumur, Champigny or Anjou Rouge but, it is also favoured by other cooler climates around the world producing quality bottlings from Mendoza, California, Virginia and Stellenbosch.
It has soft tannins, moderate acidity and tons of charm and finesse combining bright raspberry fruit with intense floral aromatics and a silky texture akin to Pinot Noir. But it can also produce complex and structured wines and unlike Cabernet Sauvignon, which can take time to approach, they can be drunk young and with little or no oak treatment.
Some bottles can command large sums but many can be found at affordable prices.
The following list of 10 great Cabernet Francs comprises a mixture of single-varietal wines and grape-dominant blends.
Two of the 100% bottlings unsurprisingly come from the Loire with exceptional examples from Couly-Dutheil and Domaine de la Butte, priced £26 and £21 respectively, however varying in their expressions, the former being ‘attractive and youthful, with a smoky dark fruit core’ and the latter displaying ‘fresh hedgerow fruit scents with some intense violet, chocolate and damp earth notes’.
The others are spread across the globe with one of Italy’s best-known bottlings from Bolgheri in Tuscany – Le Macchiole’s Paleo 2016 scoring 96 points and noted as ‘soft and round with great volume on the palate’, Uco Valley with Rutini’s 2016, scoring 95 points and described as ‘seductive, classy and elegantly perfumed’ and Virginia with Ramiiisol’s Riserva 2014 rated 96 points, being ‘poised, resonant, with pepper and blackberry fruit and very silky tannins’.
Paleo in its secretive pre-release stage. The pure red fruit hidden away in the depths of the wine hints at the elegant complexity of which Cabernet Franc (100%) is capable in Bolgheri. Soft and round with great volume on the palate and an infinite finish. A long-distance runner.