The Grape and Winemaking
by Jay Drysdale
Cabernet Franc shares many of the same phenolic and aroma compounds as Cabernet Sauvignon but with some noticeable differences. Cabernet Franc tends to be more lightly pigmented and produces wines with the same level of intensity and richness. Cabernet Franc tends to have a more pronounced perfume with notes of raspberries, black currants, violets and graphite. It is often characterized by a green, vegetal strike that can range from leaves to green bell peppers. It has slightly lesstannins than Cabernet Sauvignon and tends to produce a wine with a smoother mouth-feel.
By looking at local research and from other cool climate growing regions:
We know the following:
- Flowers and ripens earlier than Cab Sauv
- Winter hardy but still susceptible to winter kill
- Small berries with looser clusters than Cab Sauv
- Generally lower pigment and higher acid than Cab Sauv
We are learning:
- Extended cool temperature pre and post maceration times assists in drawing out further phenolics when the grapes are ripe. (From 5-60 days)
- If the grapes are not ripe extended maceration will only enhance the levels of methoxypyrazine and a warmer ferment is needed to extract more fruit dominant flavours.
- May produce fuller body and higher pigmentation in sandy chalky soils
- The grape integrates more oak complexity with secondary barrels and a longer slower maturation.
- How different soil types affect overall flavours
- Leaf thinning may increase grape skin ripening from direct sun contact
Some dull but interesting reading:
- Project Cab Franc – A study devised to increase the appeal of Loire reds. by Jamie Goode
- A different and informative study of Project Cab Franc by the Wine Doctor
- Synthesis of Isotope-labelled Methoxypyrazine Compounds as Internal Standards and Quantitative Determination of Aroma Methoxypyrazines in Water and Wines
- Cold Climate studies relating to Cabernet Franc
- A Virgina Study on Viticultural aspects of Cab Franc