Nine of the world's best Cabernet Francs

Wine news

Fri 4 Dec 2020

By Adam Partridge

^ Vineyards in France's Loire Valley, where the finest single varietal Cabernet Franc is grown

When it comes to Cabernet Franc, chances are you’ve been drinking it unknowingly as it usually constitutes the smallest percentage of a red Bordeaux blend where Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot dominate.

But for those seeking out 100% Cabernet Franc, France remains the global powerhouse. The cool Touraine region in the Loire valley – and within that Chinon and Bourgueil - is very well suited to this particular grape. Expect delicious raspberry and cherry notes and soft tannins.

Further afield, Cabernet Franc has had real success planted in cooler climates where Cabernet Sauvignon would struggle to ripen. Hailing from Ontario in Canada, IWSC judges were impressed with Megalomaniac Reserve Cabernet Franc 2017’s notes of ‘juicy bramble fruit’.

Although Chile has only recently realised Cabernet Franc’s potential to thrive in high altitude areas, there are already some great examples on the market. Viña la Rosa’s La Capitana Cabernet Franc 2019 is made in the up-and-coming Cachapoal Valley which, until now, has played second fiddle to the Maipo Valley and Colchagua.

It looks like we’re going to see a lot more single-varietal Cabernet Franc wines from the New World in future and on the 4th of December - International Cabernet Franc Day – that’s exactly what we’ll be toasting to.

Scroll down to find nine award-winners from IWSC 2020.

Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2016iwsc-top-cabernet-franc-1.png

Tiptoes in with light cassis and layered minerality, then bursts into endlessly streaming blackcurrant with nice savoury ripple. Tannins are like silk and oak is poised with smoky spice. A witty, light-footed wine with long fruit finish and excellent typicity. 14.1% RRP £26 from Vinals Food & Wine

Altaluvia Cabernet Franc 2018iwsc-top-cabernet-franc-2.png
Sur Andino Argentina

Like floating on a languid river of vibrant black fruit with heady spicy florals in the air and wet stone gleaming throughout. Tannins have good, restrained bite, oak is polished and acidity glimmers. Balanced, intense and perfect for pairing. 15% n/a in UK

Small Lot Cabernet Franc 2016iwsc-top-cabernet-franc-3.png
C.C. Jentsch Cellars

With a bold nose of cherry tart, marzipan spice and a touch of thyme, this generous wine balances dark fruit with savoury meatiness, fine-grained tannins and a refreshing, lingering finish. 14% n/a in UK

Cabernet Franc 2017iwsc-top-cabernet-franc-4.png
Strewn Winery

Elegant aromatics of cassis, with subtle oak spice. Attractive weight of fruit on the palate, showcasing the fresh red berry flavours. Fine structural balance and subtle tannin. 14.4% n/a in UK

Auritea Cabernet Franc 2016iwsc-top-cabernet-franc-5.png
Tenute Lunelli

Intense, earthy and dense. Tons of red fruit with a touch of vanilla pod and black pepper. Fresh, elegant and smooth with a nice touch of minerality on the finish. 14.5% RRP £59 from Tannico

Reserve Cabernet Franc 2017iwsc-top-cabernet-franc-6.png

Rich, ripe nose of bramble and berry fruit, which persists through the palate. Complex, excellent weight and has a juicy, fresh finish. Attractive. 14.5% n/a in UK

La Capitana Cabernet Franc 2019iwsc-top-cabernet-franc-7.png
Viña la Rosa

Herbal cassis, pencil shavings, herbal, earthy, gentle and long; delicately textured with wonderful tannic structure; the finish is fresh. 14% RRP £14 from Wine Cellar Club

Cabernet Franc 2017iwsc-top-cabernet-franc-8.png
El Enemigo

Sumptuous core of plump red fruit with floaty violet nose and seductive satiny palate. Ripe tannins round up crunchy body and layered, tarry finish with good grip. Nice typicity. 13.5% RRP £13 from VinQuinn

Oldfield Reserve Cabernet Franc 2016iwsc-top-cabernet-franc-9.png
Tinhorn Creek Vineyards

Showing lifted plum fruit with a touch of forest floor on the nose, this wine is soft, ripe and juicy with freshness balancing the structure in a long, elegant finish. 14% n/a in UK

View more red wine recommedations from IWSC:

20 of the best Chilean reds