Also known as Bouchet and Breton in France, this red grape variety has been seen as the little brother of Cabernet Sauvignon. While genetic research indicates that Cabernet Franc is the parent of Cabernet Sauvignon, a cross between it and Sauvignon Blanc.
This grape variety is principally grown for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the Bordeaux style wines, where it’s a minor component (10%-15%) adding acidity and aroma. Cabernet Franc makes bright pale red wines that are lighter and fruitier than Cabernet Sauvignon. It also contributes finesse and a peppery perfume to blends with more robust grapes. Depending on growing region and style of wine, additional aromas can include tobacco, raspberry and cassis.
However there are some places where Cabernet Franc produces also mono-varietal wines, like Loire valley where Chinon wines have an attractive taste of berry fruits, unobtrusive tannins, but quite often show high acidity. The way of the variety to Loire valley has been established in XVII century, after Cardinal Richelieu transported there some cuttings of the vine from Libournais region of southwest France, where Cabernet Franc is believed to be originated.
There are also few notable exceptions, where Cabernet Franc dominates in the wine as the major grape like: Chateau Cheval Blanc in Saint-Émilion (France) and Le Macchiole’s flagship wine Paleo made in Bolgheri.
In terms of cultivation the grape is quite similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, but if planted in the same climate conditions its bud ripens at least a week earlier. Plantings of Cabernet Franc in Tuscany have been increasing in recent years, particularly on Tuscan coast where the grape is praised for the balance and elegance that it brings to blends. Here some wines often labeled simply as "Cabernet" tend to be primarily Cabernet Franc or a blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.