Italian wines often labelled ‘Cabernet’ usually stem from Cabernet Franc or a blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Those from the northeastern region such as Veneto, however, would almost certainly be made from Cabernet Franc, it being the predominant grape should it be a blend.
Cabernet Franc, which originates from Bordeaux, France, is, together with Sauvignon Blanc, parent to Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc, which has thinner skin and lower acidity than its offspring, ripens at least a week earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon, and is often planted as an insurance.
In Italy, Cabernet Franc, which thrives in cooler weather, grows in a number of regions in the Northeast, predominantly the Tre Venezie, which includes Veneto. However, plantings of Cabernet Franc have been on the increase in Toscana, home to the Super Tuscans, which are blends of international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot and native varieties such as Sangiovese. Cabernet Franc is used for bringing balance and elegance to the blends.
The varietal wines of Cabernet Franc planted in north-eastern Italy are usually light to medium bodied, with herbaceous or vegetal characteristics, and less tannic than Cabernet Sauvignon.