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Cabernet Sauvignon

The Cabernet Sauvignon variety is highly regarded all over the world and many experts consider it to be the best grape for red wines. Not for nothing does it have the status of “cépages nobles”, a French term denoting the most noble of wine varieties. Thanks to the phenols in its seeds, this grape variety is ideally suited to both barrique-ageing and bottle-ageing.
Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most noble grape varieties.

Thick-skinned grapes produce fruity, highly ageable red wines

This red wine grape is the most frequently planted variety for premium wines. It prefers more southerly regions and hot, sandy and stony soils. With thick skins and many large seeds, the small dark berries are late to ripen. Warm climates are favourable for the development of tannins, acidity and fruit flavours. As the grapes do not ripen as easily, wines produced in cool regions are not so full-bodied. This variety is therefore not grown as much in cooler climates.
Nevertheless, wherever it grows the Cabernet Sauvignon grape always retains its unmistakable aromas. It develops an extremely concentrated fruitiness redolent of blackcurrant juice. The thick skins of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape variety not only give the wine its deep red colour, they also greatly influence its flavour, imparting a high tannin content but without overshadowing the fruitiness. They give young wines a somewhat rough and heavy edge. This astringency lessens with age as, thanks to their high tannin content, Cabernet Sauvignon wines have an excellent potential for ageing to perfection. As it matures, a Cabernet Sauvignon develops a wide spectrum of additional aromas. Hints of cedarwood, tobacco and chocolate enhance its fruity flavour structure.
A Cabernet Sauvignon is therefore ideally suited to barrique-ageing. It gains complexity in the barrel and the secondary aromas continue to develop. Exposure to oak aromas makes it more supple. Time spent in barrels also makes the wines more long-lived, in some cases they can continue maturing into excellent fine wines over many decades. Cabernet Sauvignon is great for drinking with lamb and beef dishes, as well as for making the accompanying red wine jus.

World-renowned: global cultivation of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape variety

DNA analyses conducted in 1997 showed that the Cabernet Sauvignon grape variety resulted from a crossing of Cabernet franc and Sauvignon blanc. Cabernet Sauvignon owes its good reputation above all to wines from the Médoc where it is the predominant variety grown. The vigorous vine thrives very well on the poor, well-drained stony soil here. It is commonly blended with Merlot, Cabernet franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, usually making up more than 50%. Single-varietal expressions are produced mainly in the New World. Along with Australia, Médoc’s biggest competitor is California where Cabernet Sauvignon ranks as the number one grape variety, both in terms of reputation and price. The best winemakers produce elegant ageworthy wines with great body and aromas.

French Cabernet Sauvignons

The long-established Bordeaux grape variety helped this winegrowing region become world-famous. The Médoc terroirs alongside the Gironde estuary still produce the best wines. The vine roots can reach down deep into the gravelly soils here to bring forth excellent grapes. Blends made with other red grapes take a longer time to mature and achieve very high prices. However, it is increasingly possible to buy simpler fast-maturing yet still good quality, affordable Médoc wines.Extensive plantings of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape variety can also be found in Languedoc-Roussillon. Both single varietals and blends are made here.

Cabernet Sauvignons from Italy

Ever since the success of Super Tuscan wines from Maremma, more and more vineyards in Tuscany are being planted with Cabernet Sauvignon vines. The variety is a constituent in many DOC and DOCG red wines. Top-quality single varietals are also produced.The Super Tuscan Sassicaia from Bolgheri is vinified either as a varietal or blended with a small amount of Cabernet franc. This is usually followed by barrique-ageing for at least two years to produce wines of the highest quality. As well as the cult wine Sassicaia, the IGT wine Maestro Raro should also be mentioned. Its dense fruitiness is often enhanced by ageing in oak barrels.

Swiss red wines

At 63 hectares, cultivation of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes represents only a small segment of Swiss viticulture. Grapes of this variety are primarily found in the canton of Valais, where they are usually vinified in blends or barrique-aged. They also thrive in Ticino.

Cabernet Sauvignon from Down Under

Australian winegrowers discovered these red Bordeaux grapes in the 1950s. They quickly adapted the variety to the warmer climate of Australia and have been enhancing its good reputation ever since. This red grape is grown chiefly in the vineyards of Coonawarra, Barossa and Margaret River. Cabernet Sauvignon is often blended with Syrah here, but Bordeaux-style blends with Cabernet franc and Merlot are also popular.

Californian Cabernet Sauvignons

There are also a remarkable number of wines from overseas. The biggest and most important winegrowing regions on the other side of the Atlantic are in the Californian Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley. Wines from the Napa Valley are distinctly fruity. Cabernet Sauvignons from Sonoma Valley extend its flavour profile with delicate notes of anise.

Prime examples from South Africa

The Cabernet Sauvignon variety also thrives on the loam-rich soils of Constantia in South Africa. Blending with Cabernet franc yields spicy wines with fine notes of eucalyptus. With their slight toast aromas, wines from Marlbrook are likewise impressive. This variety makes up half the grapes in Bordeaux-style blends. Many go on to be improved by ageing in barriques. In Paarl in South Africa’s Western Cape, it is produced both as a single varietal and also as a blend with Merlot and Cabernet franc.

Cabernet Sauvignons from South America

Argentina produces high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon wines, in particular in the winegrowing regions Cruz de Piedra, Barrancas and Lunlunta in the Maipú area.The grape is grown to an even greater extent in Chile. The northernmost wine regions in the Elqui and Limarí Valley benefit from the climate on the Pacific coast. The warmer Maipo Valley near Santiago likewise produces top-class wines with nuanced herbal notes. The Curicó region is also notable as its mediterranean climate and loam soil are highly suited to growing Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The winemakers of Viña Montes, San Pedro and Torres in particular achieve excellent results.Looking for a characterful fruity wine to enjoy? Mondovino’s online shop and Coop stores stock a wide selection of Cabernet Sauvignon wines.