Cabernet Franc is one of the most widely planted red grape varietals in the world. Plantings can be found across Europe, the New World and in China. In many wine regions, it is planted as a component of a Bordeaux-style blend, playing a supportive role to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. In parts of north-east Italy and the right bank region of Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc both plays a more prominent role in blends and is made as a single varietal.
Cabernet Franc with its lower tannin levels than Cabernet Sauvignon, can make a bright red wine, with contributing finesse and a peppery aroma to blends with more robust grape varietals. Depending on growing conditions and style of wine, additional aromas can include tobacco, blueberry, raspberry, cassis and sometimes even violets.

 

Cabernet Franc is believed to have been established in the Libournais region of south-west France sometime in the 17th century. In 1997 DNA research showed that Cabernet Franc crossed with Sauvignon Blanc to produce Cabernet Sauvignon.

Cabernet Franc is very similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, but it buds and ripens at least a week earlier. This trait allows the vine to thrive in slightly cooler climates than Cabernet Sauvignon. In Bordeaux, plantings of Cabernet Franc are treated as an 'insurance policy' against inclement weather close to harvest that may negatively affect Cabernet Sauvignon vines.
Its early budding does pose the viticultural hazard of coulure early in the growing season. The vine is vigorous and upright, the berries are quite small and blue-black in colour, with fairly thin skins. The Cabernet Franc grapevine is more prone to mutation than Cabernet Sauvignon, though less so than Pinot Noir.
Cabernet Franc can adapt to a wide variety of soil types but seems to thrive in sandy, chalky soils, producing heavier, more full-bodied styles of wine. This grape is highly yield sensitive, with over-cropping producing wines with more green, vegetative notes. More recently producers have been selling Cabernet Franc as a single varietal with significant success.