Cab Franc, is it the poor man’s Cab Sav?

No, definitely not.  But I am not going to lie, that is kind of what I thought before I got to drinking more and more Cabernet Francs and was able to really appreciate what this grape had to offer.  In fact, based on DNA studies, Cabernet Franc could actually be considered the Cab Sav’s father, with the mother being Sauvignon Blanc.  Not sure why in my mind I have assigned red grapes to be more masculine in nature with white grapes more feminine, no offense to anyone.

The Cabernet Franc grape, flowers and ripens early and needs soils that drain well.  It is planted in many regions around the world; France (Bordeaux, Loire Valley), Italy, Hungary, South America (Chile & Argentina), the US and Canada.  The grape is quite versatile in what they are used for as well.  You will often see Cab Francs as a rosé with a range of sweetness, in blends with Cab Sav, Merlot and others, and either unoaked or oaked.

It can have some great flavor profiles, with beautiful red fruit like strawberries, raspberries, plums and cherries and can even get into the black fruits like blackberries or black currents.  It also has some nice herbaciousness to it, the younger the wine, the “greener” the wine may taste which is what I think people don’t always respond to.  But red peppers, dried herbs and even some pepper can come through beautifully in a Cab Franc.  Since it likes well drained soils you can often pick up a wet stone component as well.  If it is oaked, you will get the delicious oak flavours like coffee, chocolate or tobacco.  So, based on flavour profile alone, it can give a Cab Sav a run for the money.

Structurally, a Cab Franc is less bold than a Cab Sav which is why I think Cab Sav lovers don’t always give it a chance.  It can have quite high acid but is often medium bodied (it can be light or full but on average it is med-bodied) and the tannins are more in the medium range.  The tannins can be a bit astringent if the wine is young, so aging a Cab Franc a few years will lessen that and make it pretty smooth.

So, after reading all of that, you want to give a Cab Franc a chance, right?  I think you should, it is a great wine, that can be drunk in many situations (patio to a nice steak dinner) and enjoyed by a wide variety of wine lovers. 

In fact, I went a little crazy during my Cab Franc shopping spree so stay tuned for many Cab Francs reviews to come.  Grab yourself a bottle or 4 and join me.


Leave a Comment