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The rise of California Cabernet Franc plus 20 top wines worth seeking out

Move over Cabernet Sauvignon. The savoury, herbal intrigue of Cabernet Franc is now the grape on everyone’s lips in California. Here we chart its history and ascendancy in the Golden State, recommending 20 top wines to try from a comprehensive tasting of 60 wines.

In the wake of the second destructive wave of the phylloxera bug in California in the 1980s and 1990s, Cabernet Sauvignon rose to such prominence and dominance (especially in Napa Valley) that I, like most people, assumed it must now be the most expensive grape variety in the state. Wrong. That would be Cabernet Franc.


Top 20 California Cabernet Franc wines


Slowly, steadily and quietly, Cabernet Sauvignon’s father has displaced its son* as the priciest grape to buy and the grape that is generating ripples of excitement – especially in Napa and Sonoma Valleys. (*Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc are the parent grapes of Cabernet Sauvignon.)


Top 20 California Cabernet Franc wines


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