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International Cabernet Franc day: The best bottles to celebrate with

Celebrate this truly global grape variety with a range of top-scoring wines from around the world.

December 4th is International Cabernet Franc Day, honouring one of the wine world’s most important, yet often understated, red grape varieties.

Although frequently found in the shadows of the more popular Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc has an equally big, if not bigger, role to play in the world of viticulture.

In addition to parenting Cabernet Sauvignon (in conjunction with Sauvignon Blanc), Cabernet Franc is also a parent variety to Merlot and Carménère.

The grape finds its origins in Bordeaux, where it is growing in cultivation today. While Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot tend to dominate the blends here, Cabernet Franc is a frequent second fiddle in both Left Bank and Right Bank blends.

Outside of Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc is one of the main players in the Loire Valley, where it is often bottled as a monovarietal wine. Here, the grape tends to create light to medium-bodied wines laden with flavours of red fruit, green bell pepper, and earth.

Beyond France, Cabernet Franc is finding significant footing in Argentina, and northern Italy.

Scroll down to see award-winning Cabernet Franc wines from DWWA 2023

On the vine, Cabernet Franc boasts thin, bluish-black skins and is earlier ripening than Cabernet Sauvignon. The grape thrives in cooler climates; when grown in chillier areas, Cabernet Franc-based wines will have lighter bodies and earthier / greener notes, whereas wines produced in warmer areas will show jammier, more fruit-driven flavours. Wines produced from Cabernet Franc often show notes of raspberry, red currants, forest floor, black pepper, green bell pepper, and earth. Acidity is generally medium to high and tannins are present yet approachable.

When produced at the hands of great winemakers, well-made expressions of Cabernet Franc can withstand decades in the cellar. For ageworthy expressions of Cabernet Franc, looking to legendary producers from Saumur, Chinon, and Saumur-Champigny is a great place to start.

Here is a selection of the best performing single varietal Cabernet Franc wines from around the world at Decanter World Wine Awards 2023 to better understand what this grape is all about. Discover more at awards.decanter.com

International Cabernet Franc Day: Single varietal awarded wines to try 


Fattoria Villa Saletta, 980 AD, Toscana, Tuscany 2018
Best in Show, 97 points
Has Cabernet Franc’s time finally come? It’s noticeable that in many areas outside its Loire Valley and Bordeaux heartlands, the ‘other Cabernet’ is winning friends and setting down roots in a variety of distinguished terroirs, often to impressive effect. This characterful Tuscan version appealed to our judges – for the best of reasons: it’s Tuscan style rather than varietal style you’ll find here. The variety simply provides a new range of expressive possibilities for the place. This wine is dark, dense black-red in colour, with complex aromas in which almost apothecary fruits mingle with root spice and a forest-like scents of earth and twig. The wine is sombre, dark and dense in flavour, and its balance and intrinsic richness compel, sip after sip; the finish is subtle, despite its generosity. The wine will age well, and perform admirably at table, too. Alcohol 14%


Bodega Antucura, Single Vineyard Tani Cabernet Franc, Vista Flores, Tunuyán, Mendoza 2020
Gold, 95 points
Expressive and beautiful nose showing leafy freshness, elegant notes of green bell pepper and ripe cherries. Soft and well resolved tannins. Characterful long finish. Alc 14.3%

Bodega Renacer, Cabernet Franc, Mendoza 2020
Gold, 95 points
The nose displays aromas of green bell pepper, with pure red fruit aromas and minty black plums, seasoned by hints of tobacco and herbs. Sandy textured tannins. Alc 14%

Bodega Zuccardi, Brazos De Los Andes Cabernet Franc, Uco Valley, Mendoza 2022
Gold, 95 points
A skilfully crafted wine with beguilingly aromatic blueberry fruit, violet perfumes and some peppery spice. The palate has more plum and blueberry fruits with an attractive, spicy core; palpable yet refined tannins. Alc 14%


Gorun Winery, Reserve Cabernet Franc, Pleven, Northern Region – Danubian Plain 2020
Gold, 95 points
A concentrated, serious and complex example with black plums, well-integrated oak, sleek tannins, a bright beam of tingling acidity and a really, long and elegant finish. Rather stylish. Alc 14.3%


Kacaba, Signature Series Reserve Cabernet Franc, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario – Niagara Peninsula 2020
Gold, 95 points
Opulent, plush and inviting, with aromas of lush dark cherry, cocoa, dark berry , liquorice and espresso, while the textured palate is graced with blackberry, spice and well managed tannins. Alc 14.9%

Thirty Bench, Small Lot Cabernet Franc, Beamsville Bench, Ontario – Niagara Peninsula 2020
Gold, 95 points
Fragrant and perfumed, with pretty red currant, mint, chocolate and blackberry aromatics lead to a herbaceous palate graced with textured, intense fruit, leafy notes and lovely, well managed textured tannins. Alc 13.9%


Terra Slavonia, Apolitico Cabernet Franc, Slavonija, Continental 2021
Gold, 95 points
An exciting, well-made, silky wine with violet, red and black fruit aromas. It has a concentrated palate of dark fruits and beautiful acidity with touches of mint and spice. Long, elegant finish. Superb! Alc 13.5%


Château De Chaintres, Clos Des Oratoriens, Saumur-Champigny, Loire 2020
Platinum, 97 points
A dazzling core of intense cassis and blackberry aromatics with an opulent, mouthwatering texture and a rich, juicy ripe fruit concentration. Beautifully elegant with a soft cushion of velvet tannins and a long, beguiling finish. Alc 14.5%

Domaine Grosbois, Clôture, Chinon, Loire 2018
Gold, 96 points
A superb concentration of black briary fruit, raspberries and smoky plums; lovely and refreshing with a delicate acidity, alluring tannins and a long, elegant finish. Alc 14%

Donatien Bahuaud, Les Boires, Chinon, Loire 2019
Gold, 95 points
Myriad juicy black and red plum fruit on the nose and palate with a mouthfilling complexity, velvety tannins and a long, spicy finish. Great value. Alc 13%

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