Cabernet franc is one of the five classic Bordeaux red grapes, where it usually plays a supporting role to cabernet sauvignon and merlot – depending on the vineyard mix. It seldom makes a stand-alone wine, as it tends to be a little thin in the middle palate. Merlot, a strong middle-palate grape, fills it out. Petit verdot, malbec or shiraz can also help to make a complete wine. Cabernet franc is similar to cabernet sauvignon but more aromatic, more leafy/tobaccoey and lighter in tannin. Its most famous unblended expression is in the Loire Valley's Chinon and Bourgueil, where it makes light-bodied, often Beaujolais-like reds and masses of simple white sparkling wine.
Leconfield Cabernet Franc 2017, Coonawarra $29
This is a bright, youthful, fruit-driven wine, which is slightly callow but has abundant fresh red-fruit aromas with some of the banana-like overtones of a newly-made wine. It's soft and juicy on the tongue: a wine that should suit the current fashion for young, fruity, low-tannin reds. Screw-cap; 14.5 per cent alcohol.
Ageing? Best now to 10 years.
Stockists include No.threeOfour Wine Store, Richmond (Vic); Summer Hill Wine Shop (NSW).
Woodlands Cabernet Franc Merlot 2016, Margaret River $27
This elegant medium-bodied red is about half of each variety, and is scented with violet, raspberry and blueberry aromas, while the palate is tight and tense, with fine texture and mild tannins. It drinks well young, especially with lighter meats and poultry. Screw-cap; 13.5 per cent alcohol.
Ageing? Drink now to 10 years.
Stockists include Annandale Cellars (NSW); Cloudwine, South Melbourne (Vic).
Frankland Estate Olmo's Reward 2015, Frankland River $85
This is an impressive, full-bodied wine that presents its 72 per cent cabernet franc in a serious light, with some help from cabernet sauvignon and malbec. It's firm, tight, full-bodied and concentrated, with lovely balance and elegance. There are raspberry, red-cherry and tomato-bush aromas. Screw-cap; 14 per cent alcohol.
Ageing? Best from 2020 to 2040.
Stockists include Five Way Cellars, Paddington (NSW); Prince Wine Store (Vic).