One of Ontario’s most well known grape varietals, Cabernet Franc is a popular black-skinned French wine grape variety. Typically, it’s grown for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the Bordeaux style. Now grown in most major wine producing countries, its origins go back as far as the late 18th century. One of the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc is known as the “insurance grape” as it ripens earlier and has the ability to survive harsh growing conditions.
Cabernet Franc produces a bright, pale red wine. It typically appears in blended reds, adding herbaceous accents, pepper, tobacco and dark spice flavours. Depending on the growing region and wine style, the finish can be medium to long with notes of raspberry, tobacco, licorice, leather and even bell pepper. Some enjoy it slightly chilled while others agree it’s best served at room temperature.
While Cabernet Franc is often used in blends of red wine, it can also be found in Icewine, specifically in Ontario. Growers use Cabernet Franc because it ripens about two weeks earlier than other red wine grapes and fares better in Ontario’s unpredictable cool climate. Cabernet Francs found in Ontario often have a raspberry and vegetal flavour with moderate acidity.
In summary, Cabernet Franc has the following characteristics:
- Popular black-skinned French wine grape
- One of the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon
- Produces bright, pale red wine
- Typically appears in blended reds
- Can have notes of raspberry, pepper, tobacco, licorice, leather and even bell pepper
- Can be found as a varietal wine, blend, or in Icewine
- Ontario Cabernet Franc often has raspberry and vegetal flavour with moderate acidity