Skip to content

Cabernet Franc, Bouchet, Breton: Sommelier's Perspective

Cabernet Franc: Sue-Ann Staff, Cooper
Cabernet Franc: Sue-Ann Staff, Cooper's Hawk | Sue-Ann Staff, Cooper's Hawk

Cabernet Franc is the original "Cabernet" grape. With origins in the Bordeaux wine region of France, it is grown mostly on the Right Bank in the sub-regions of St. Emilion and its neighbor, Pomerol. In this region it is typically blended with Merlot and at times a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon. For these blends Cabernet Franc contributes perfume to the finished wine, and in this region it is commonly called Bouchet.

From Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc was sent to the Loire Valley wine region in France. St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Bourgueil, and Chinon make up 4,450ha of the Touraine region which is believed to produce the best red wines of the Loire. The name for Cabernet Franc there is Breton.

In Italy, Cabernet Franc synonyms are Bordo and Cabernet Frank, and their wine will often be labelled "Cabernet." In California, Cabernet Franc is found in a wine blend they call Meritage, similar to a Bordeaux using at least two of the same grape varieties permitted there: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.

Cabernet Franc is also found in Australia, Chile, New Zealand, and South Africa as a varietal wine. This grape grows well in cool climates such as New York and Washington states, and Canada. Styles range greatly from light to full bodied depending on the region.

In Ontario, Canada, Cabernet Franc excels as a single varietal wine. You will find varied aromas and flavours depending on the terroir of the sub-appellation, typically red fruits strawberry and raspberry, black currant, black cherry, and black pepper. You may even notice green bean or bell pepper notes which happen in cooler areas and vintage years. Two wines you might try from two different regions:



Sue-Ann Staff had a good year in 2010. Her wines took home the prize for best wine labels at the Ontario Wine Awards, and the vintage in Niagara was ideal for producing red Bordeaux varietals like this Cabernet Franc. Elegant and savoury with plummy, brambly fruit, it's a fine choice for lamb chops. --VINTAGES



Cabernet Franc is a critical component in many of Bordeaux's greatest wines, and is one of the cornerstone grapes of Ontario winemaking. In Ontario, Cab Franc also creates top-flight single varietal wines. --VINTAGES

So there you have it: Cabernet Franc, Bouchet, Breton