Cabernet Sauvignon is the world’s best -travelled red wine variety, making concentrated, tannic wines for particularly long ageing. 

Viticultural Characteristic 

Vigorous, late budding, mid to late ripening. Thrives on well-drained gravel soils, preferably acid and well exposed. Very susceptible to fungal diseases that affect the wood such as eutypa dieback and esca and also to powdery mildew. Bunches and berries are small, the skin thick and distinctively blueish. Its hardwood makes it suitable for mechanical harvesting and generally safe from the risk of the winter freeze.

The cross that gave birth to Cabernet Sauvignon was most likely spontaneous and occurred somewhere in the Gironde before the mid-eighteenth century. Since the word Sauvignon derives from the French ‘sauvage’ – wild, it has been argued that Cabernet Sauvignon was domesticated by wild grapevines in the Gironde. The accidental cross happened during the seventeenth century in southern France.

Originated in Southwest France, the grape growers adopted the grape across the globe, and it became the most planted grape tree until the end of the last century. 

The grape is a cross between a red Cabernet Franc grape plant and a white Sauvignon Blanc grape plant from Bordeaux, France. The accidental cross happened during the eighteenth century in southern France.

Cabernet Sauvignon is the world’s best-travelled red wine variety, the grape growers adopted the grape across the globe, and it became the most planted vine until the end of the last century.

 

The Cabernet is beloved for high age ability and alcohol concentration.

Its alcohol contents can reach up to the level of 15% and bring good taste when consumed with foods. We briefly described some salient features of the grape wine and its main growing areas below:

           Main bouquet:

Cabernet Sauvignon develops several aroma notes depending upon the location of the grape growing and making wine. However, the most common primary aromas are black cherries, black currant, cedar, mint, and graphite. Other common bouquets are leather, truffles, cigar box, tobacco and mushroom, which usually comes from the fermentation process. Third aromas are from oak barrel ageing. We can find vanilla, nuts, spices, cooked fruits, baking spices, and herbal notes.

          Profile of taste:

As a wine, it is a full-bodied red wine with a dark colour and medium to high acidity level. The high tannin wine is dry (not sweet) and has savoury notes of spice and black pepper.

In most cases, the alcohol content in Cabernet Sauvignon is around 13.5%. However, grapes produced in some regions like California, Australia, and Chile can reach the concentration of 14.5% and sometimes nearly 15%.

            How to serve:

The Cabernet is a full-bodied red wine best served at 60,8-64,4 ° F /16-18 ° C.

            Glassware:

The shape of the glass from which it is consumed affects the taste of Cabernet Sauvignon, as it affects the wine temperature. We recommend Bordeaux glass for consumption because of its big balloon shape which gives extra aerate. Wine experts suggest drinking it by holding the glass by its stem to prevent the wine from warming up faster.

             Decanted or open to breathing :

Specialists recommend a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon be open two hours before drinking your wine or decanted fifteen minutes before you aerated your wine. Ageing potential of Cab Sauvignon is from 10 to 40 years. 

              Food pairing:

The rich flavour and high content of tannin in the Cabernet make it perfect for rich roast meat, sauce, and high-fat dishes.

          Cabernet Sauvignon’s Conservation Notes:

Those who consume alcohol now will have a plethora of choices, thanks to the availability of Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabernet wines are fruity and abundant, while others are flavorful and smoky. Everything is determined by where it is grown and how it is processed into wine.

       Dates for the diary:

August 30th is Cabernet Sauvignon day!

          Cabernet’s top growing regions:

  • a) Bordeaux, France:

How they taste: Black Currant, Anis, Tobacco Leaf, Plum Sauce, Pencil Lead

Cabernet Sauvignon originated in Bordeaux and adapted well to the microclimate and soil. Bordeaux has developed several unique variants of the Cabernet wines that are unique in quality and taste.

Bordeaux blend Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlo and Cabernet Franc primary in Haut-Medoc that blend makes one of the most expensive wines in the world. 

  • b) North Coast, California:

How they taste: Black Currant, Blackberry, Pencil Lead, Tobacco, Mint

The North Coast AVA (American Viticulture Area), which includes Napa Valley, Sonoma, and a few less significant-known regions, produces Cabernet Sauvignon grapes nearly equal in volume to Bordeaux.

By getting recognition during ‘The Judgement of Paris’ in 1976, the Californian Cabernet catapulted into the international market and, since then, flourished by offering several Cabernet Sauvignon varieties unique to the region.

  • c) South Australia:

How they taste: Black Plum, White Pepper, Currant Candy, Chocolate, Bay Leaf

The Coonawarra region in South Australia has hot weather and red clay soil (called ‘terra rossa’) with high iron-oxide content. The climate is suitable for Cabernet Sauvignon wine to develop an intense fruit flavour of white pepper or bay leaf and an insidious minty smell.

Most common blends are with Shiraz, which gives the wine much more red fruits aromas and extra spices. 

The wines have ample depth and strong tannins with 11-12 per cent alcohol concentration.

         d) Chile:

How they taste: Blackberry, Black Cherry, Fig Paste, Baking Spices, Green Peppercorn

Chile produces some of the exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Chile’s vast Central Valley is the major producer of the Cabernet, along with the Aconcagua, Maipo, Cachapoal, and Colchagua Valleys. We often see 100% Cabernet Sauvignon in Chile. 

The location of the Maipo Valley between the cooling of the Pacific and the hot, incoming Andes Mountains makes one of the most perfect Mediterranean climates for Cabernet Sauvignon.

Fun facts about Cabernet Sauvignon:

  1. Cabernet Sauvignon means ‘lost Cabernet,’ and the grape comes from France’s Department of Aquitaine (including Bordeaux).
  2. In 1997, scientists at UC Davis (Carole Meredith and John Bowers) discovered that Cabernet Sauvignon was a son of Sauvignon Blanc (and Cabernet Franc). The leaves of Sauvignon Blanc look similar to Cabernet Sauvignon’s vines. He said no one thought a white grape could be the world’s parent of a red class.
  3. Cabernet Sauvignon is associated with a slew of other grapes in Bordeaux, commonly referred to by people as ‘the variations of Bordeaux.’ These grapes incorporate Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec , Carménère, and Sauvignon Blanc.
  4. One of the interesting similarities shared in Bordeaux’s variations is the presence of a fragrant compound that is also found in green bells (called methoxypyrazine).
  5. The other variations of Bordeaux are known to produce ‘green’ aromas from pyrazines. For many years, the compound of bell pepper has been considered a negative ‘green’ ingredient in Bordeaux wines. As it happened, many consumers like their wines to taste the fruit! Thus, viticulturists learned how to reduce ‘being green’ in alcohol along with special methods of reduction.

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Key dates in Cabernet Sauvignon history:

1600: Cabernet Sauvignon was first mentioned in the 17th century.

1976: In the 1976 Judgement of Paris, a Cabernet Sauvignon from Stags’ Leap in Napa Valley beat out the top Bordeaux Chateaus in a blind taste test.

1997: Cabernet Sauvignon was discovered to be a child of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc in 1997 by researchers at UC Davis (Carole Meredith and John Bowers).

References:

Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours. Jancis Robinson 2012

Wine. Years. People. Events. Massandra Wine Collection 2010

The World Atlas of Wine: 8th Edition. Johnson, H & Robinson, J. 2019

 How to talk about wine- Juice Jargon 2005

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About the Author: Staff Writer

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