Unlike Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc thrives in Argentina’s cooler or high-altitude vineyards across the country, especially along the Andes. This red grape even produces wines that are richer and more voluptuous than those found in regions like the Loire and still displays the tell-tale green pepper and herbal tones that are the variety’s signature.
Here are nine of our favorite Argentine Cab Francs to try.
Zorzal 2017 Eggo Franco Cabernet Franc (Tupungato); $30, 90 points. Dusty cherry and berry aromas are earthy and highly natural, with no overripe notes or oak. A full, ripe palate offers fine balance between weight and elegance, while this tastes of clean black fruits prior to a finish with dry tannins. This is fresh and exact, with little of the herbal character that often comes with Cabernet Franc. Drink through 2025. Brazos Wine Imports. —Michael Schachner
Zuccardi 2018 Poligonos del Valle de Uco San Pablo Cabernet Franc (Uco Valley); $30, 93 points. This racy Cabernet Franc from winemaker Sebastián Zuccardi is made entirely in concrete. Plum and berry tones are full and fresh on the nose and palate, while flavors of black fruit, herbs, tea and tomato linger on the smooth finish. Drink through 2024. Winesellers, Ltd. Editors’ Choice. —M. S.
Casarena 2017 Single Vineyard Lauren’s Vineyard Agrelo Cabernet Franc (Luján de Cuyo); $30, 92 points. Tightly wound black fruit aromas come with tension as opposed to being overripe and overoaked. This Cab Franc is lively and powerful, with tolerable tartaric scratchiness. Ripe berry, cassis and dark plum flavors are lightly spiced prior to a lusty but short finish with a touch of heat. Drink through 2025. Vine Connections. —M.S.
Finca Decero 2017 Decero Mini Ediciones Remolinos Vineyard Cabernet Franc (Agrelo); $39, 92 points. Spicy oak aromas play nicely with core blackberry and black plum scents. On the palate, this is chewy and concentrated, with hard tannins. Generous flavors of black fruits, dried beef, herbs and chocolaty oak yield to spice and vanilla on the finish. While this is an excellent and full-flavored red with ample oak, it’s a bit shy on Cab Franc character; maybe more time in the bottle will bring that out. Drink through 2027. Vintus LLC. Cellar Selection. —M.S.
Sur de los Andes 2017 Reserva Cabernet Franc (Mendoza); $34, 92 points. Jammy black plum and blackberry aromas include hints of oak, varietal spice and herbal notes. A healthy palate is flush and supported by easygoing tannins. Mixed black fruit flavors come with a touch of Cabernet Franc’s noted herbal character, while this feels steady and smooth on the finish. Drink through 2023. W. Direct. —M.S.
Zolo 2017 Reserve Estate Grown Cabernet Franc (Mendoza); $20, 91 points. French consultant Jean Claude Berrouet is helping Zolo’s team make fresher wines at lower alcohol levels, and this wine fits the bill with its aromas of earth, cinnamon and berries. It’s fully ripe but not heavy on the palate, showing gamy, herbal and berry flavors that are typical of the variety. Vino Del Sol. —M.S.
Argento 2016 Reserva Cabernet Franc (Mendoza); $18, 90 points. Mild reduction on a nose that smells of spiced beef, salami with fennel and dark berry fruits leads to a full and layered palate with good natural acidity. Blackberry and cassis flavors are backed by a savory stewed note, while this is smooth and composed on the finish. Pacific Highway Wines & Spirit. —M.S.
Ginard Ballester 2017 Antonia Ginard Cabernet Franc (Paraje Altamira); $25, 90 points. Exotic, minerally berry aromas hint at violet and fine herbs, with spice and cardamom notes in the background. A tight palate is dry and elegant, while this tastes of plum, wild berry and exotic spices. Dry tannins and freshness on the finish are what Paraje Altamira is all about. Drink now. Alphapac A Marketing C. —M.S.
Finca la Celia 2017 Pioneer Cabernet Franc (Uco Valley); $16, 88 points. Spicy, saucy berry aromas are typical of Cabernet Franc, especially Uco Valley Cab Franc. A tight palate with tomatoey acidity is rubbing, while herbal plum and berry flavors include a patented CF note of bell pepper. On the finish, this is dry and pulls at the cheeks, with flavors of tomato, spice and plum. Apollo Fine Wines & Spirits. —M.S.