A Wine Lover’s Guide To The Red Cabernet Sauvignon Grape

As its name may indicate, Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the red Cabernet Franc grape and the white Sauvignon Blanc. In spite of these origins, it is definitely red and not pink. Cabernet Sauvignon originated in the Medoc and Graves areas in the Bordeaux region of southwestern France. It may have been known in Roman times, and was definitely known at the beginning of the Eighteenth Century. Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant red grape variety on the left-bank of Bordeaux. It is popular in many other countries including Argentina, Australia, Chile, and South Africa. Cabernet Sauvignon is widely grown in the United States and is the signature grape of California’s Napa Valley.

With their complementary characteristics, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc vines are often planted in the same vineyard as a sort of insurance policy. Cabernet Franc grapes ripen earlier and their vines survive cold winters better. On the other hand, Cabernet Sauvignon vines better resist spring frosts.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a really “red” red wine with strong tannins, high acidity, and powerful flavors, usually black currant. The style of wine produced from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes varies considerably from one geographic region to another. Among the major variables are the climate, soil and winemaker’s touch. It may be surprising, but Hungarian Cabernet Sauvignon tastes of paprika, Hungary’s favorite spice. Carefully made Cabernet Sauvignon wines have a complex bouquet and a deep, rich taste, often presenting a variety of fruit flavors. Because of their strong tannins they may require years of cellaring to develop fully. This grape is very versatile. It produces the French Anjou Rose, and can be transformed into a sparkling red wine. Given its well-defined characteristics, it is often blended with other grape varieties as Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot to make world-class French Bordeaux wines. It also blends quite well with Australian Shiraz.

Cabernet Sauvignon accompanies many kinds of meat such as Pheasant (Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon in particular), Leg of Lamb (Californian Cabernet Sauvignon in particular), Hamburger, and Steak. If you’re going to finally open that decades-old $100 (or $200 or more) Bordeaux, we recommend the Steak over the Hamburger.

Over the years I have reviewed just about too many Cabernet Sauvignons to count. In alphabetical order they originated in Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, California, Chile, France, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Spain, and South Africa. While most were varietals, some of them were blends. Some were Kosher, organic, or sweet. Two of the most expensive wines I ever reviewed had some Cab in the blend. I still haven’t tried the famous Cab-based Opus One but at $350 a bottle in my neck of the woods ($200 and up on the Internet) I have no such plans.

Levi Reiss authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but prefers drinking fine wine. He teaches computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com features a weekly review of $10 wines and a whole lot more. Visit his wine, nutrition, and health website www.wineinyourdiet.com.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.