Grape Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon
All about Cabernet Sauvignon Wine
Cabernet Sauvignon wine is made from the most widely grown and widely known red grape variety in the world. Almost all wine producing countries have plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon but its spiritual home is in Bordeaux where the classic blend consists of differing proportions of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc with occasional appearances from Petit Verdot and Malbec (depending on which bit of Bordeaux you're in). In the district of the Medoc Cabernet Sauvignon produces some of the most famous wines in the world (the British call these wines "Clarets") which can fetch astronomical prices at the top end of the scale, yet there are plenty of more reasonably priced super wines from the Medoc as well, so don't be discouraged. Seek out your friendly local independent Wine Merchant and ask for some suggestions of Cabernet Sauvignon wines from Bordeaux!
The classic Cabernet Sauvignon aroma is blackcurrant though Cabernet Sauvignon wine can exhibit notes of mint, black stone fruits and eucalyptus depending on where it is grown. Cabernet Sauvignon is frequently blended with other grape varieties and forms particularly successful partnerships with Merlot and Shiraz but is also used in Spain and Italy as a partner to their own native varieties. Cabernet Sauvignon is ideally suited to a degree of oak ageing since oak compliments the natural flavours of the grape extremely well. Cabernet Sauvignon wines produced in the new world tend to be bigger and richer wines than those made in Europe with Californian and Australian examples being amongst some of the fullest expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon available.
Cabernet Sauvignon wine tends to maintain its recognisable character wherever it's grown and a Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia or Chile will still show the characteristic Cabernet Sauvignon nose of blackcurrants with a hint of cedar or eucalyptus with subtle variations depending on the climate, soil and viticulture that the vines enjoy. Cabernet Sauvignons grown in the New World tend to be made for drinking younger than those produced in its ancestral home in Bordeaux. Cabernet Sauvignon is a small grape with a thick skin which gives wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon plenty of colour and tannin. It is essential that Cabernet Sauvignon is fully ripe when harvested to ensure that the full fruit flavours show in the wine. If it's under-ripe when picked, Cabernet Sauvignon can show an unattractive green stalkiness in the wine which somehow never seems to fade.
Cabernet Sauvignon wines of a higher quality often have good ageing potential since the tannin levels can be quite high, yet the softer pressings employed by many New World producers, whilst still producing firm and obvious Cabernet Sauvignon character, tend to result in fleshier and fatter wines for earlier consumption since these are designed to enhance the fruity characteristics in wine rather than the tannic structure more evident in European winemaking.
If you are looking for a benchmark example of what Cabernet Sauvignon wine tastes like without spending too much money you're probably best advised to look at Cabernet Sauvignon wines from Chile, for it is the Chileans that seem to have most successfully mastered making wines from this variety at sensible price points.
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