Cabernet sauvignon is the result of a natural crossing of cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc with an extraordinary concentration of phenolics that result is richly coloured wines worthy of long cellaring.
Many, if not most, wine enthusiasts consider cabernet sauvignon the “king” of red “ grapes, and in many New World wine producing countries it is widely and very successfully planted.
Cabernet sauvignon’s remarkable and unmistakeable taste is its blackcurrant flavour and ability to reflect of the terroir. It yields structural wines with a “presence” that most other grape varieties cannot match.
It has become a universally accepted benchmark of fine red wines notably because Bordeaux, California, Washington State, Chile, Australia, and of late, South Africa produce extraordinary samples.
Southern France, and even Spain’s Penedes, and Ribera del Duero in Spain, Ontario, and British Columbia produce some notable cabernet sauvignon blends under the trade name meritage.
The skins of the best cabernet sauvingon grapes are loaded with tannins, colour, and a multitude of flavour compounds. Small thick-skinned berries are ideal for fine red wines as the ratio between skin and pulp is much closer than in big thin-skinned grapes that contain much more water.
Cabernet sauvignon is thick-skinned and many clones are small berried.
Cabernet sauvignon can be produced as a fruit-driven (fresh, fruity, medium- to full bodied and ready-to-drink shortly after bottling), or for long-term aging with extra barrel aging if the vintage yields very fruity wines.
Chilean, Ontarian, British Columbian, Italian from Tuscany, and South African wineries tend to produce this style.
Cellar worthy cabernet sauvignon wines come from Bordeaux, south Australia`s Coonawara and Barossa- and Napa Valleys in California, and Washington State produce outstanding and cellar worthy cabernet sauvignons.
Bordeaux red wines from Medoc contain high proportions of cabernet sauvignon, blended with merlot, cabernet franc, petit verdot and malbec. St. Emilion and Pomerol aka Right bank wines contain much more merlot than cabernet sauvignon because of the terroir.
Cabernet sauvignon wines age well because of their high tannin content. Add in the new-oak barrels many producers use to mature their wines, and you are in “tannin heaven”. But tannin is not the only ingredient that allows quality cabernet sauvignon-based wines to cellar for decades. It is all about balance: intense flavours and racy acidity working in partnership with tannins.
With more than 2000 years of winemaking history, Bordeaux has long been the nerve centre of the wine world. From this iconic landscape spring many of the world’s finest red wines.
While many consumers think of all red Bordeaux wines to be expensive in reality there are many estates, here called chateaux, which produce fine wines at truly affordable prices.
Tucked down in France’s southwest corner, the Bordeaux region is subdivided by the majestic Gironde and Garonne rivers. Proximity to the rivers isn’t a given; some Bordeaux appellations – Margaux, Pauillac, St. Julien- sit literally at river’s edge, while others such as Pomerol, St. Emilion are more distant.
Bordeaux is the largest quality red wine-producing region in the world.
The Right Bank that contains St. Emilion, Pomerol and others may have existed long before the Left Bank, which today is more famous, as a wine growing region, and that dates back to Roman times. (Château Auson, was once called Ausonius by a Roman writer who lived there).
By the 13th century the city of Bordeaux had become more famous as a port shipping wines all over the world. In fact the wines of Southwest France’s Gascony and Gaillac, were Bordeaux’s most popular exports. Until the 17th century the Left Bank was generally too wet and marshy for vine growing. Yet from these inauspicious beginnings, greatness was born. Once Dutch engineers were successful in draining the land, farmers and wineries proved to be a quick study.
In less than 200 years they went from creating wines for distillation to producing very fine wines that English loved and still do.
Even Italian and Spanish growers, very fond of their indigenous grape varieties, plant cabernet sauvignon for blending and occasionally to make varietal wines.
Well-balanced cabernet sauvignon smells intensely of raspberry, blackberry, cherry, and blackcurrant and a good “grip”. These wines are worthy of cellaring. If you want to drink them shortly after purchase, you need fatty food.
Cabernet sauvignon loves to bask in warmth and sunshine for as long as possible, and is one of the most revered red wines of California where an ideal climate and passionate winemaking have led to most prized single varietal cabernets in the world.
Cabernet sauvignon is a grape California’s long growing season of warm days tempered by coastal breezes and daytime fogs that are followed by cooler nights is the exact climate it desires. The fruit gets the warmth and sun it needs to become delectably ripe and “round”; while cooler periods ensure the retention of vibrant acidity. Tannins are velvety rather than gripping. The resulting wines are complex, powerful, deeply flavoured and cellar worthy.
Chile earned its reputation by making some of the best value cabernet sauvignons in the world. Now after two decades of modern winemaking experience, the country is also beginning to approach both Bordeaux and Napa Valley in quality.
L C B O’s Vintages division offers high quality cabernet sauvignons from Bordeaux, California, Chile, Australia, South Africa and occasionally from British Columbia and Ontario.