Ripening earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon, it acts both as a great blender with its special fragrance and at the same time as a form of insurance policy. On the cooler, clay soils of the Right Bank, it forms the backbone of many of the supple delicious, blackcurrant and red berry fruit of St Emilions and Pomerols, most notably Cheval Blanc. Outside Bordeaux it’s the major red grape of the Loire, where it’s more herbaceous in style, as it also tends to be in north-east Italy. The name used for it in the middle Loire is Breton. It is also grown in California, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.
Cabernet Franc, the distant relative of Cabernet Sauvignon, can produce deliciously perfumed, supple, raspberry and blackcurrant-infused red wines in Bordeaux, while further north in the cooler regions of the Loire Valley and in north-eastern Italy, it produces a wine which tends to become more herbaceous in style. It is often described as having the aroma of pencil shavings.
Updated by Jeanne Thexton on the 8th of January 2016