Cabernet Franc is one of the major black grape varietals worldwide. While it is principally grown for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the Bordeaux style, it can also be vinified alone, as in the Loire Valley where it is named Chinon, Bourgueil, Samur, Anjou and Samur-Champigny.
California winemakers, who wanted to replicate the Bordeaux blend (now marketed as Meritage), developed an interest in Cabernet Franc and in the 1980s this interest resulted in an increase in plantings that raised the total acreage of Cabernet Franc in California to 3,400 acres, most of which was in Napa and Sonoma counties.
While Cabernet Franc shares many of the same aroma compounds as Cabernet Sauvignon, it tends to be more lightly pigmented and produces wines with the same level of intensity and richness as its more celebrated rival. Cabernet Franc tends to have a more pronounced perfume with notes of tobacco, raspberries, black currants, violets and cassis. It has slightly less tannins than and about the same low acidity as Cabernet Sauvignon, is not as full-bodied and tends to produce a wine with a smoother mouthfeel.
The best match for Cabernet Franc are both savory and slightly acidic dishes of medium body, such as grilled and roasted beef, lamb, pork, game, chicken, cold cuts and many vegetables.
Cheeses that go well with Cabernet Franc include mild and sharp Cheddar, Edam, Glouchester, Gouda, Muenster, aged Provolone, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino and Roncal.