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January 22, 2020

Why You Should Be Drinking Cabernet Franc

Post by South Lyndale Liqours

by Daniel Brashi (Curator)

In the same way that Zweigelt commands more notoriety than its parents (Blaufrankisch & St Laurent), Cabernet Franc is often overlooked in favor of its own spawn - that being Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Merlot and Hondarribi Beltza. Well, maybe not Hondarribi Beltza or, um, Merlot, but definitely Cabernet Sauvignon.

We must not forget Cabernet Franc!

Cabernet Franc had a vineyard fling with Sauvignon Blanc and out popped Cabernet Sauvignon. Don’t get me wrong... I’m happy they got together, but as we dig deep, beyond the good looks and sturdy frame of Cab Sauv I wonder, “Does it have the personality of its parent?”

About Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc has deep roots in Southwest France and is a major component of many Bordeaux blends. It has found a lovely little cottage in the Loire though and expressions of the grape, pure and true, are unparalleled.

Though California, Oregon, New York and Maryland (yes, Maryland) are coming on strong. Oh! And Italy, Canada, South Africa and Argentina.

Here are some great examples below that we carry at SLL!

Cabernet Francs at South Lyndale Liquors


What are we looking for in a solid Cab Franc? That’s a tough question to answer. Generally speaking, the grape offers raspberry and strawberry for fruit (strawberry in warmer climates). The biggest marker though and maybe the love/hate trait of Franc is a pyrazine note.

These wines are not shy! They are expressive for sure.

Pyrazines can take the form of elderflower, chocolate, grass, peas and bell pepper. Bell Pepper shows up the most in Cab Franc and ranges from crisp, crunchy, fresh Bell Pepper to steamed or grilled (fajita) style pepper. But sometimes Cab Franc offers no pepper and settles into a lovely violet or lilac note.

These wines are not shy! They are expressive for sure.


Pairing a wine like this can be difficult but rewarding. The weight of the wine can vary from light to medium, not often full. A wonderful red for tomato-based sauces (pairing with acid from tomato) or BBQ (pairing with the vinegar in a BBQ sauce). Also, a great foil for vegetable dishes-roasted or grilled with herbs.

Breaking down the Loire

These are guidelines, not hard and fast rules.


A little harder and a touch more angular.

Saumur wines at South Lyndale Liquors


Disciplined, structured and tannic. Alternatively, St. Nicolas de Bourgueil is pretty and aromatic with very pure and brigth fruit. Generally lighter.

Bourgueil wines at South Lyndale Liquors


It should all come together here in a wonderful balance.

Chinon Wines at South Lyndale Liquors

In Bordeaux Cheval Blanc is the wine of note, always heavy in Cabernet Franc and if you can find it, Chateau Trottevieille is 100% Franc.

New World Wines

With the new world it’s important to experiment and this true for all varietals. The new world is still learning and learning with great winemakers can be very fulfilling. A wine like Broc’s KouKou is bright, crunchy, true and crushable where Ian Brand or Leah Jorgensen make richer more serious wines.

Dr. Frank in the Finger Lakes makes light red fruited and ethereal Franc but in Northern Italy Sant Elena is working off a 2009 vintage that shows exactly what Cab Franc can do with age.

Like most varietals in their truest form Cabernet Franc is one that is fun to explore. It has a wonderful spectrum of flavor. Don’t miss the rose wines!!! Both still and sparkling!

Cabernet Franc sparkling and still rosé
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