From the north fork of Long Island to the shores of the Gironde in Bordeaux to the arid heights of Sicily, Cabernet Franc always
hides in the shadow of its cousin, Cabernet Sauvignon. There are only a handful of places where Cabernet Franc is showcased, most notably in Chinon and some other satellite appellations in the Loire Valley in Northern France. When vinified on its own, Cabernet Franc tends to produce wines light to medium in color with strong earthy-mushroom notes.
The fruit tends to sway more towards raspberries and other brighter red fruits flavors, as opposed to Cabernet Sauvignon which tends to exhibit more darker berry fruit flavors like blackberries and boysenberries. Any wine bearing the appellations, Chinon AOC, must be produced from at least 90% Cabernet Franc, where the grape is sometimes referred to as, Breton.
Further south in France in Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc is mostly used in smaller doses to help add acidity and earthy profiles to the blended wines.
Domestically, Cabernet Franc has found a home in Long Island, where the cool and damp maritime climate provides ideal growing conditions. Thus far, the efforts of Long Island vintners have been commendable, but the wines of Chinon in France are a bit more interesting on average.
You can also find Cabernet Franc from other parts of the country including California, Washington, Oregon, and other states. It’s a fun grape to explore because different climates produce completely different wines and there are many sides of Cabernet Franc to taste.