Cabernet Franc: The Grape That Got Around

Cabernet Franc: The Grape That Got Around

Big Daddy deserves a day too.

Cabernet Franc, the father of Cabernet Sauvignon, among others, is celebrated on December 4th.

While it is often used as a blending grape, the single varietal Cabernet Franc is a medium-bodied red wine from the Basque region of France, which is in the southwest part of the country near Spain. The wine is known for its savory, bell pepper-like flavors and great acidity so it works great with food.

But… It’s the grape that got around.

Not only are Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc also fathered Merlot, with a now extinct grape called Magdeleine Noire des Charentes.

And there is some DNA evidence that it may be the father of Malbec and Carmenère too.

Busy grape.

There’s a ton of it in Bordeaux blends.

Many Bordeaux blends are Cabernet Sauvignon based. But since Cabernet Sauvignon ripens late, there’s more opportunity for the weather to screw them up.

Since Cab Franc ripens first, and generally comes out great, more of it can be added to the blend if the Cabernet Sauvignon wasn’t so great that year.

Its grown all over the world now but loves our Northeast.

While some of the great Cab Franc wines comes from Bordeaux, France, it really loves the cooler climates in the northeastern U.S., especially Long Island and the Finger lakes in NY. Even Virginia and Pennsylvania are making some great Cab Franc now.

The day has historical significance, believe it or not.

Check out this link if you want the full story, but here’s short version: A Cardinal back in the 17th century transported some Cab Franc vines to the Loire Valley of France and the grape took off. The Cardinal died on December 4th and so that’s how #CabFrancDay was chosen.

How should you drink it?

It wouldn’t hurt to let it get some air before you dive in to your glass of Cab Franc. And while it can age it, most of the single varietals should be drunk within 5 years.

If you’re looking for value, try from Cab Franc from Chile, Argentina, and NY State.

And because of the acidity and those black fruit and green vegetable flavors and aromas, it’ll pair perfectly with the big savory dishes you make this time of year, like roast chicken, pork or beef.

Pour it with Portobella mushrooms and green olives too.


And while it may not have been on purpose, much like Big Daddy, Cab Franc turned out to be a great parent too.

Tracy Byrnes, former FOX Business Network anchor and host of “Wine with Me” for, is editor-in-chief and chief contributor of The Sip. 

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