3 Reasons You Should Be Drinking Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc, the quiet parent grape of flashy Cabernet Sauvignon, plummy Merlot, and tannic Carménère, deserves far more attention than it gets, especially during the holiday season when wine recommendations reach a fever pitch. Not only does Cabernet Franc create wines of exceptional character, but it matches beautifully with fall comfort food, and will never, ever break the bank — something most reds can’t claim. Read on for the top three reasons Cabernet Franc shouldn’t be overlooked this fall.

Don’t miss out on the Cabernet Franc Carnival in Johannesburg, at the Wanderers Club on June 2! The event is all about quality Cab Francs, and will be the first time you can taste so many quality Cab Francs together in one spot!  The show includes a selection of 4-5* Platter’s 2017 wines from highly acclaimed producers like Warwick, Edgebaston, Hermanuspietersfontein, Raats, Ormonde, Rainbow’s End and more. 

Start off your weekend with a first round of tastings, then take a break for one of the Chariots Bar’s famous wood-fired pizza’s or Southern Fried Chicken Burgers, using your R50 food coupon, and return to taste and buy the rest of the wines. You can also discover boutique wineries like Callan Williams’s The Garajeest where passion meets expertise as this ex Ballerina goes for the best wines she can make, with enthusiasm and drive. Plus, try the only Rosé on show when luxury Stellenbosch winery Delaire Graff shows off theirgorgeous softly pink interpretation of the varietal. 

Here's three reasons why you should be drinking cabernet franc:

1. Cabernet Franc Is More Than a Blending Grape

Cab Franc is the people’s grape. While it’s most famous as part of the iconic Bordeaux and Meritage blends, where it brings peppery, earthy aromas and complexity, Cabernet Franc excels when bottled on its own.

Instead of simply contributing a little flavor, varietal-bottled Cabernet Francs flaunt aromas of green pepper, forest floor and flowers all backed up by tasty black fruit flavors like plum and cassis. Cab Franc already has the best qualities of heftier reds — rich fruit flavor, good body — without being hugely heavy or over the top.

2. Cabernet Franc Has Tannins For Days

Tannins are addicting in the same way as Sriracha — the astringent, puckery sensation they create across the palate can be intense, but in a crave-worthy way, especially because they double as a palate cleanser.

Tannins come from grape seeds and stems, and Cabernet Franc is a medium-skinned grape and, as a result, presents medium tannins in wines. For spice lovers, Cab Franc is like Sriracha aioli — bold enough for heat addicts but restrained and elegant enough for mere mortals. On the table, this makes Cab Franc easy to enjoy solo or with food, unlike full-bodied and tannic reds like Petite Sirah that demand a hearty meal alongside them.

The oak-aging treatment that’s standard for Cabernet Franc, usually at least six months, contributes additional tannin to these reds, a trick that adds even more spice and balance to Cabernet Franc wines.

3. Cabernet Franc Can Age

Natural tannins coupled with oak aging give Cab Franc the structure a wine needs to age and develop over time. Like strong core muscles, these traits help a wine stand tall and develop with time instead of slumping over into sour, vinegar territory.

While most bottles are meant to be drunk in the five-year range, many can last upwards of two decades. The fuss around old wines is worth it — those years turn Cabernet Franc from flirtatious and fruity with a hint of spice, to complex and earthy, with tons of secondary aromas like wet dirt, leather, dried fruit and nuts.

Next time you’re looking for a new wine experience, or just the ideal bottle for a dinner party, reach for Cabernet Franc instead of the old Cab Sauv standby. Quite simply, Cabernet Franc is the friend you haven’t met yet, and other reds will be there if you ever decide to go back.