Cabernet Franc (red)

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If Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are, respectively, Bordeaux's king and queen, Cabernet Francis its prince (though DNA analysis shows that Cabernet Franc is one of two parents of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot).

Cabernet Franc, provided by CIVB
Image: Cabernet Franc, provided by CIVB

Ripening earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon, it's acts both as great blender with its special fragrance and at the same time as a form of insurance policy. On the cooler, clay soils of the Right Bank, it forms the backbone of many of the supple delicious, blackcurrant and red berry fruit Saint-Émilions and Pomerols, most notably Cheval Blanc. Outside Bordeaux it's the major red grape of the Loire, where it's more herbaceous in style, as it tends to be in north-east Italy. The name used for it in the middle Loire is Breton. It's also grown in California, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.

What does it taste like?

grassy and raspberryish
aroma of lead pencil shavings

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