Italian Indigenous Varieties: Cabernet Franc

I know. Cabernet Franc, an indigenous Italian varietal? It sounds very odd but this opens a larger discussion, how long does a grape grow in a region, before we can call it an indigenous one? (Bob Dylan wrote a song that sounds somewhat like that line…). Well, I’d like to hear others’ views on this but in my mind, over 100 years, makes a grape indigenous.

Cabernet Franc, my first grape starting with “c” since I started this project in 2009, has been growing in Italy since 1870, if not earlier. There are reports of it growing in the Veneto, in the Colli Euganei, at that time. In fact, there is a Consorzio Vini DOC Colli Euganei.

Cabernet Franc, one of the parent grapes of Cabernet Sauvignon, is largely associated with France not with Italy, although it does grow in a number of Italian regions including Friuli Venezia Giulia, Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige. Cabernet Franc loves cool weather and is able to ripen in places where it’s more famed relative cannot.

Cabernet Franc from Italy is more herbaceous and earthly I find than that most widely found in France. It has lower acidity and tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon. I think of it as a very sexy grape actually with a subtle come on that I don’t find in Cabernet Sauvignon and which I do appreciate.

Steven Kolpan wrote a piece on Cabernet Franc a few years ago which is very informative.

Cabernet Franc is often blended with other grapes throughout the world and in Italy but you can find it as a mono-varietal as well.
Marco Felluga’s Superiore Cabernet Franc Collio, for example, is a very appealing expression of this grape in Friuli.

I find Cabernet Franc pairs well with an variety of foods but I like it best with lighter white meats, cheese of pasta rather than with a big steak.

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