Cabernet Franc (also known as ‘Breton’ in the Loire) is an earlier-ripening, parent grape to Cabernet Sauvignon, with which it shares some characteristics. For instance, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon share similar phenolic and aromatic compounds, such as pyrazines, which can give them vegetal or green bell pepper notes. Cabernet Franc tends to be lighter in body and tannins than its progeny, tends to have more red fruit notes and a hint of graphite or pencil shavings.
The Loire is the benchmark for Cabernet Franc growing regions across the world. The grape does particularly well in cool-climate, inland areas like the Loire because it ripens early and is less susceptible to poor weather during harvest. In the new world, colder climates like Canada and upstate New York have found success with Cabernet Franc. Here in Washington, Cabernet Franc can produce fruity and well-balanced wines, with less of the green notes found in the Loire examples.