Vin de France & Grape Varieties


Encyclopedia of French Grape Varieties

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Red Rosé

Cabernet Franc probably originates from southwestern France. It is believed to be the ancestor of the Cabernets, and namely the renowned Cabernet-Sauvignon. While there is little doubt it originates from the Aquitaine region, Cardinal de Richelieu later planted it along the banks of the Loire River, where it also found the right conditions to thrive.

Very well known for its Raspberry varietal aroma, it also presents a refreshing touch of blackcurrant leaf. Its other most commonly described aromas are strawberry, gooseberry and licorice violet

Wines produced
Cabernet Franc is a pleasant variety, thus its viscosity is a delight to the mouth. Less tannic and astringent than Cabernet-Sauvignon, it is also softer and gives an impression of fullness when harvested at peak ripeness. Rich and luscious, Cabernet Franc, depending on how it is matured, can also be aged for several years.

Areas planted
Cabernet Franc is a grape variety commonly planted along the banks of the Loire, namely near Angers and Tours. It is also planted as a secondary variety throughout southwestern France, in the Gironde and Dordogne départements (counties). It is also found in Lot et Garonne and in Quercy, a region surrounding Cahors. More recently, it has been introduced into the southwestern Mediterranean area. The total land surface planted with Cabernet Franc has been growing steadily for the past 40 years, reaching 38,700 hectares in 2006.

Budding and ripening
Neither an early nor a late variety, Cabernet Franc buds on average 5 days after Chasselas, the benchmark grape variety. It ripens later, reaching full ripeness 2 and a half to 3 weeks after Chasselas, thus making it a Period II variety.

Cabernet Franc is known to be quite vigorous. It must therefore be pruned moderately long, or shorter in areas with hotter climates.

Preferred soils
The best wines made with Cabernet Franc are generally obtained from limestone- clay soils, with a steady supply of water, especially in Mediterranean areas that are more prone to drought. In more temperate areas, with no water stress, it also provides excellent results on sandier soils.

Ideal Climate
This variety, which originates from a temperate area (southwestern France) prefers more moderate, even cool climates such as those along the banks of the Loire River, where it is grown on a large scale. It likes hot, moderately long summers and requires watering on a regular basis. In warmer areas, it must be watered regularly during the summer and pruned short to limit the load of each vine.

Susceptibility to disease and pests
Cabernet Franc is moderately resistant to gray mold and is moderately susceptible to eutypiosis and esca. It is also quite susceptible to leafhoppers.

Cabernet Franc is used only to produce wine.

Distinctive features
Cabernet Franc can be recognized by its young leaves, which are a reddish green color with bronze patches. Its adult leaves are pentagonal, with 3 or 5 lobes. The petiolar sinus has slightly overlapping lobes. The lateral sinuses, between the lobes quite frequently have a tooth at the base. These teeth frequently have rectilinear sides. The leaf blade has a shiny, hammered appearance. The underside has a low density coat of flat-lying hairs. The berries are rounded.

Clones marketed
The twenty-six Cabernet Franc clones (specifically called Cabernet Franc N) are numbers 210, 211, 212, 213, 214, 215, 312, 326, 327, 330, 331, 332, 393, 394, 395, 396, 407, 408, 409, 542, 543, 544, 545, 622, 623 and 678. A conservatory of nearly 80 clones was set up in the vineyards of Anjou in 2001. Another conservatory of over 100 clones was set up in the vineyards of Bordeaux in 2003 and 2004. This results from prospecting carried out in Gironde and in the Pyrenean Piedmont.

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