In the incestuous world of the grapevine, one in particular stands out for me and if the DNA is correct then it’s the illustrious part-parent of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenere (three of my favourite food groups).

The promiscuous breeder itself is of course Cabernet Franc, a variety for many years hidden in famous claret blends or bottled as a single although unidentified varietal in the Loire Valley.

In Bordeaux, it adds finesse to its more robust offspring and on occasion, depending on the blend, that classic aroma of tobacco and cigar boxes.

The last decade or so have seen more and more vineyards around the world experimenting with it as a single varietal and that’s just perfect for me as I love the grape.

Unusually for me, one of my current favourites is an inexpensive version from the Languedoc called 1620 Lorgeril, which is also the date the vineyard was founded. I was astounded by the smoothness and the redcurrants, cherries and pepper on the palate are just so typical of the variety.

In the main, though, on the occasions I can’t afford a decent claret, I tend to aim for the big, ripe New World versions such as Leconfield’s rather stunning example from the Coonawarra or the silky and very classy version by Warwick in South Africa.

If you want something with a bit more weight and chewy tannins, try one of the Argentinians such as Humberto Canales Selección de Familia or the big lad from the boys and girls in the Garage Wine Co in Chile. Flavours aside, though, one of the reasons I love the grape is its easy affinity with such a wide range of foods. Basically you have to be a muppet to get it wrong with Cabernet Franc because it pairs well with steak, chicken, port, lamb, fish, cheese and Pot Noodles! Pip pip for another week.


  • Humberto Canale Seleccion de Familia: The nose is alive with ripe berries and vanilla and the palate is big, juicy and packed with autumn jam and full but soft tannins. Superb with roast lamb. Richardson’s of Whitehaven, £21.95.
  • La Reserve de Leoville Barton 2016: Smoky blackcurrant fruits and pencil shavings on the nose with firm tannins, rich juicy red currants and toasty vanilla on the palate. A really fabulous claret. Majestic Wines, £36.99.