The benchmark red grape of the Loire Valley, Cabernet Franc is a summer must-have. Spicy, floral, and dark-fruited, these medium-bodied reds are not only perfect with juicy burgers and BBQ-sauce slathered chicken, but their easygoing nature belies a complexity that is impossible to ignore in the glass.

Especially when grown in the Loire Valley, Cabernet Franc combines peppery, floral aromatics with vibrant red and black fruit flavors layered with minerality and fine, persistent tannins. While approachable in their youth, Cabernet Franc wines have incredible aging potential, with older bottlings displaying irresistible earthy notes. A medium-skinned variety, Cabernet Franc is usually a bright or pale ruby in color and its combination of dynamic flavors and medium – rather than full-body allow it to be present on the table without demanding center stage. In Loire Valley Cabernet Francs, this fascinating combination emerges because Cabernet Franc is uniquely suited to the Loire Valley’s cool continental climate and range of soil types.

The variety found its footing in the Loire hundreds of years ago: French writer François Rabelais commented on Cabernet Franc in a 1534 publication, though some evidence suggests it may have been thriving in the Loire Valley as early as the 11th century. Cabernet Franc buds and ripens slightly earlier than other red grapes, making it ideal for cultivation in the chilly Loire Valley. The grape thrives on a range of soil types but is most prized when it comes from the Tuffeau, clay, and sandy alluvial varennes soils found in Touraine. Here, the Chinon AOP, and Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil AOP set the standard for Cabernet Franc worldwide with wines that cascade from the glass with notes of red raspberry, pepper, and florals, plus a distinct mineral undertone. Cabernet Franc is also produced in the Anjou AOP, Anjou Villages AOP, and Saumur Rouge appellations.

Wherever it is grown, Cab Franc combines high acidity, smooth tannins, and notes of spice and herbs, making it ideal alongside smoked and spiced meat preparations like those that dominate the backyard BBQs of summer. Increasingly, as consumers are moving away from traditional grape varieties, Cabernet Franc-based wines from the Loire offer an exciting and high-value alternative.

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