About Cabernet Sauvignon
The king of all the red grape varieties, the natural and original home of Cabernet Sauvignon is in the gravelly alluvial soils created by the Gironde River in its estuary. It is here that whether the dominant partner with its close ally of Merlot on the left bank , or to a the lesser extent on the opposite side of the majestic waters of also the rivers Garonne and Dordogne, Cabernet Sauvignon is the force behind some of the greatest wines produced in the world, to the world!
The Bordeaux ‘Clarets’ of the Medoc red wines are Cabernet Sauvignon’s major claim to fame, with the classic wines of the ‘1855 Classification’ of these wines catapulting them to even greater fame. The wines of St Estephe, Pauillac, St Julien, Pessac-Leognan and Margaux, these communes along with Graves, St Emilion and Pomerol all create the most illustrious red wines of Cabernet influence, all with a fascinating and regal history!
Independently Cabernet Sauvignon is also responsible for many of the so well known ‘blackcurrant tasting’ wines the world over. The wines of Chile made from only Cabernet Sauvignon are particularly synonymous with this distinctive fruit flavour and it is this style that so many producers have attempted to capitalise upon for individual recognition.
Cabernet Sauvignon is as adaptable as Chardonnay in terms of climate and location, hence the reason that it has been adopted by so many wine producers from all over the wine world. The only draw-back is Cabernet’s low yield even in the warmest of climates and therefore it is so important that growers ‘get it right’. Cabernet Sauvignon then must be of the best quality to realise the maximum volume of wine created for to achieve the most success in commercial terms. Like Chardonnay once again, Cabernet Sauvignon responds well to oak-ageing, with the vanilla in the wood acting as a balancing act with some of the grapes more aggressive tannins.
This results in the dominant blackcurrant fruit flavours to shine through and thus give the Cabernet wines their characteristic personality. The natural ability of producing these quite ferocious tannins is also the reason for wine makers to choose blending Cabernet Sauvignon with other grape varieties. The best example of this as we have already highlighted, is in the case of the great Bordeaux wines where Merlot is the perfect partner to create a more mellow wine with a greater concentration of fruit flavours.
Where else is Cabernet Sauvignon grown:
Almost everywhere wine is made is the most straightforward answer, as long as the temperatures are not too low as they are in some of the more northern vineyards of Europe, here success has been limited.
Some really classic wines come from California’s Napa Valley and tend to be kept for their own consumption, however if you can find them in the UK you can be sure that they will be expensive ! These wines are known to rival some of the greats of Bordeaux.
The Style Of Cabernet Sauvignon
So what do we look for in the best examples of a Cabernet Sauvignon Wine?
On the Eye: A deep purple, elegant appearance of the colours of crushed black fruit.
On the Nose: Predominantly blackcurrants, enhanced with undertones of dark plums, brambles and damsons. With Bordeaux wines there will be hints of cedar wood and ‘cigar box’ fragrances.
On the Palate: Wild blackcurrant fruits with ripe plums and crushed damsons. With older wines there will be a presence of warm leather, wild game and dark chocolate. Cooler climates may produce wines with flavours of chopped green peppers.
Matching Cabernet Sauvignon with Food
Game such as partridge and pheasant are great partners with any good Cabernet Sauvignon wine. A simply roasted duck served with fresh peas from the pod topped with melted parsley butter and served with Lyonnaise Potatoes [Sautéed with sliced onion in mild olive oil and butter] Roast goose and turkey will also be complemented by good Cabernet Sauvignon.
Alan Hunter AIWS,