The Cabernet Franc grape is to France’s West what Pinot Noir is to the East. A slightly perfumed native variety with a penchant for mutation, it spawned most of Bordeaux’s red grapes including the much more famous Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Cab Franc shares with the latter a pleasing ‘green’ bell pepper aroma but offers a more silky and feminine array of dark fruit, pepper and tobacco notes. Though valued in Bordeaux its use comes in a distant third, while in the New World single varietal Cab Francs are sadly not common. Slightly earlier to ripen than Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc managed to thrive only in France’s cooler Loire Valley, where classic expressions such as Chinon and Saumur showcase its elegance and expressive charm.