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The Cabernet Sauvignon
Wine Grape:
One of the Five Bordeaux Reds

Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Grape

If you like fine red wines, then there's no need to introduce you to Cabernet Sauvignon - you already know it well! The indisputed major grape of the five Bordeaux blending reds, this grape is often found in blends both in Bordeaux and beyond, although it can also be found bottled as a single varietal wine with just Cab. This is a superb wine for aging, making it popular with collectors.

The History of Cabernet Sauvignon

DNA evidence suggests that Cabernet Sauvignon was created as a hybrid of the Cabernet France and Sauvignon Blanc grape varieties (makes sense given the names, of course). As with Cabernet Sauvignon, both are typical grapes of France's Bordeaux region.  

Qualities of the Cabernet Sauvignon Grape

Cabernet Sauvignon has a distinctive appearance, with small, dense, nearly black berries. If you taste one, you'll find thick, bitter skin and just a small burst of sweet, flavorful juice. That high ratio of skin to juice means a concentrated wine with a high proportion of pigment and tannin, both of wihch are contributed by the skin. Clusters are small and often loosely-fruited, and the vines are accordingly low in production, making them best-suited for high-quality rather than bulk wines.

Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Characteristics

Body: heavy
Tannins: heavy
Acidity: low to medium
Flavors: usually dark, black fruits although sometimes red fruit character is also present; earthy, minty, smoky/cigar and graphite can also be found - wines have a very complex flavor profile

Regions Where Cabernet Sauvignon is Grown

- Cabernet Sauvignon is grown worldwide - it is one of the most popular reds for high-quality growing
- France's Bordeaux is the most famous region known for Cabernet Sauvignon
- In the U.S., the Napa Valley is also well-known for Cab, although excellent versions can be found in other California regions as well as from Washington state
- In Italy, Tuscany uses Cabernet in its high-priced 'Super Tuscans'
- Australia and South America also have many noteworthy bottlings

Cabernet Sauvignon Fast Facts

- For France's 'Bordeaux', wines are blended from five grapes, including Cabernet Sauvignon (others are Merlot, Cabernet France, Malbec and Petit Verdot). Some Bordeaux are predominantly Cab while some contain none.
- In Italy, so-called 'Super Tuscans' are also commonly blends of the Bordeaux varietals focusing on Cab
- In the U.S. and other New World growing regions, Cab is often labelled varietally; Bordeaux blends typically using Cab may be labelled 'Meritage'
- Famous Producers (Bordeaux): The five 'First Growths' of Bordeaux (Chateau Lafite, Chateau Latour, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Haut-Brion), Chateau LĂ©oville Las-Cases
- Famous Producers (Tuscany): Sassicaia, Tignanello
- Famous Producers (Napa Valley): Joseph Phelps, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, Chateau Montelena, Screaming Eagle, Della Valle
- Extremely long aging potential, from 10 - 50 years for the best bottlings

Cabernet Sauvignon Wine & Food Pairing

- Delicious paired with strong cheeses or dark chocolate; also steak, lamb, and richer game meats
- Easy Food and Wine pairings with Cabernet Sauvignon:
     Braised Beef Short Ribs with Cheddar Polenta
      Flank Steak Salad with Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing
      Ribeye Steak with Creamed Spinach
      NY Strip Steak & Parmesan French Fries

Here are some of our favorites:

2005 Hall Cabernet Sauvignon
Hall makes great wines that are reasonably priced for Napa quality. Both bold and well-balanced.  ($40)

2005 B Sides Cabernet Sauvignon
Made from grapes from lesser-known areas of Napa (think the 'flip side' - get it, B Side?). Exceptional value - ripe, New World style.  ($25)

2007 Cousino Macul Cabernet Sauvignon Antiguas Reservas
Very earthy, natural aroma that takes some air to open up, suggesting good aging potential. Hearty tannins sweeten on the finish. ($15)

2005 Chateau Dauzac, Margaux
Incredibly delicious and rich now with intense fruit flavors, this also has lots of aging potential. ($55)


Next Variety:  Gamay Wine Grape

 



 

 


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