Cabernet Franc has long been considered a poorer relation to the world's most planted grape variety, Cabernet Sauvignon. However, very recent findings in ampelography, the study of vines origins has proven that Cabernet Franc is in reality an ancestor to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and a whole host of red and white wine grape varietals. While playing a supporting role in Bordeaux, especially to Merlot in the St Emilion district, it goes solo in the northern Loire River Valley. Around the towns of Bourgeuil and Chinon that name the wines, its style can have a refreshing acidity, gentle tannins and light-bodied herbaceous and raspberry character. Similar to Cabernet Franc grown in Italy's eastern Alps, both can be served fridge cool.
However, in South America's hotter climate, Cabernet Franc can be almost indistinguishable from its descendant, Cabernet Sauvignon. Full-bodied, blackcurrant fruit and opulent.
It's time for some franc conversation...
1) Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2007, Valdivieso, Valle de Colchagua, Chile 14pc
Perfumed vanilla and mulberry bouquet. Delicious, spiced berry palate and peppery finish. Serve with duck breast and a bitter cherry sauce.
€17.99 at Cappagh Stores, Knocknacarra, Galway; Shannon Knights, Shannon and The Corkscrew, Chatham Street, Dublin 2
2) "Sugano" Cabernet Franc 2010, San Simone, Friuli DOC, Italy 13pc
Earthy, damp autumn leaves and a sappy vegetal bouquet. Tasty, liquorice and refreshing sappy flavours. Well-balanced acidity and a red berry finish. Match with lightly pan-fried liver and onions with mash.
€15.65 at Wines Direct shop, Mullingar and online: WinesDirect.ie
3) "La Martiniere" St. Nicolas de Bourgueil 2012, Famille Bougrier, France 12pc
Light-bodied and a silky texture rippling over mouth-watering redcurrant fruity flavours and moderate tannins. A liquorice root finish. Enjoy with a plate of French charcuterie and cornichons.
€16.49 at Mitchell & Son, CHQ Building, IFSC, Dublin 1 and Glasthule
4) Winemaker's Lot 2013, Santa Rita, Valle Centrale, Chile 13.5pc
Ripe red berry and meaty aromas. Liquorice and fresh juicy black berry fruits with mellow tannins and rounded flavours. Grill a steak with a creamy mushroom and garlic sauce.
€17.00 and reduced to €8.50 from December 10 to January 4 at Tesco
5) "Orzada" Cabernet Franc 2011, Odfjell, Maipo Valley, Chile 15pc
Distinct minty aromas. Very potent alcohol padded with rich and berry flavours and supported by firm tannin. Oaky vanilla finish. Try with leg of lamb marinated in yoghurt, mint leaves and garlic and oven roasted.
€17.75 online at tindalwine.com and Searson's, Monkstown.