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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 the United States (California, Washington, and New York’s Finger Lakes and Long Island regions), as well as in Argentina, Australia, and northern Italy.

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 perfoming Cabernet Franc wines from this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards plus scroll down to also see 10 of our favorites wines to better understand what this grape is all about.


Argentina

Rutini, Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc, Gualtallary, Tupungato, Mendoza 2018

Platinum, 97 points
Savoury undertones on the nose of game and meaty notes over ripe black fruits, violets and hints of aromatic herbs and warm spices. Delicate, elegant, with a distinct wood framed palate of mocha.

Familia Innocenti, Angelo Innocenti, La Consulta, San Carlos, Mendoza 2018

Gold, 95 points
Clean and precise fruit on the nose, fresh notes of black cherry, plum, raspberry, violet, mushroom and smoky toast. Very smooth palate with a refreshing finish.


Canada

Mission Hill Family Estate, Terroir Collection Vista’s Edge Cabernet Franc, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia 2019

Gold, 96 points
Powerful, deep, brooding Cabernet Franc lifted by crisp acidity and leafy tannins. Very nicely integrated oak with a hint of spice on the finish. A classy wine with good ageing ahead.

Harper’s Trail, Thadd Springs Vineyard Cabernet Franc, Thompson Valley, British Columbia 2019

Gold, 95 points
Bitter red cherry fruit on the palate. Attractive, fresh, a vibrant wine driven by its great acidity, firm tannins; will age very well. A classy example from Thompson Valley.


France

Domaine de Pallus, La Rougerie, Chinon, Loire 2016

Platinum, 97 points
Polished black fruit nose with hints of glossy oak, slightly spicy. Nicely integrated palate with a firm tannic texture. Long and powerful, mouth-filling and rich.

Vignobles Leydet, L’Éclat de Valois, Pomerol, Bordeaux 2018

Gold, 96 points
Rich and opulent, with lovely perfumed red flower, red cherry and vanilla spice aromas, then to a palate of intense black cherry, plum, liquorice and mocha.

Comte de Thun, La Cabane Cabernet Franc, Côtes du Tarn, Southwest France 2012

Gold, 95 points
Deep, rich and ripe with pencil lead and damp earth aromas mingling with fruity notes. Fruit concentration on the palate with chocolatey oak. Ageing potential.


Hungary

Heumann, Trinitás Franc, Villány, Dél-Pannónia 2016

Gold, 95 points
Serious and classy nose with lots of spicy character, ripe dark cherries and plums. Lovely depth of fruit supporting the alcohol and grainy tannins.


Israel

Teperberg, Legacy Cabernet Franc, Judean Hills 2018

Gold, 96 points
Very refreshing Cabernet Franc sappiness and blackcurrant intensity. Ripe but firm, with lovely density to the tannins and integrated oak. Complex, and will develop further.


Italy

Casadei, Filare 18 Cabernet Franc, Toscana, Tuscany 2018

Gold, 96 points
Refined and inviting nose of peppery black fruits, violets and dried herbs over cinnamon and clove undertones. Warm yet lively with a full palate.

Madonna del Latte, Sucano, Umbria 2016

Gold, 95 points
Very intense and perfumed aromas of blueberry and plums with tomato leaf undertones. Focused palate with great fruit purity and fresh herbal notes. Earthy and structured.


Slovenia

Gašper, Selekcija Cabernet Franc, Goriška Brda, Primorska 2019

Platinum, 97 points
Pronounced and expressive nose, graceful and elegant with a lovely perfume of black fruits, vanilla, tobacco and fresh lavender. Generous palate with a lovely texture and concentration. Very long finish.


South Africa

Villiera, The Clan, Stellenbosch 2017

Gold, 95 points
This is pure boot leather, leather couches and library hall mixed with sweet cassis, bramble fruits, and coffee bean. The palate is concentrated, smooth, and elegant. Impressive. Will develop.

KWV, The Mentors Cabernet Franc, Stellenbosch 2018

Silver, 94 points
The palate is cool and precise with a fine mineral grip. Flavours of cherry, plum, cedar spice, and oak.


Switzerland

Fernand Cina, Cabernet Franc, Valais 2019

Silver, 94 points
Powerful leafy and pencil aromas. Dense palate with a lush dark fruit core, and a chocolate tingle at the back.


Ukraine

Shabo, Grande Reserve Cabernet, Odessa 2017

Gold, 95 points
Ripe nose of juicy peppers with lovely crunchy red berries and herbaceous aromas. The tannins are firm yet fine-grained, lovely precision on the palate.


See a selection of other top-scoring Cabernet Franc wines


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