Cabernet Sauvignon - Red Wine Grape

Cabernet Sauvignon, often a great 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 Médoc 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.

Classic Image of Cabernet Sauvignon Grapes Cabernet Sauvignon image first published in Victor Rendu, Ampelographie francaise, comprenant la statistique, la description des meilleurs cepages, l'analyse chimique du sol et les procedes de culture et de vinification des principaux vignobles de la France. [2nd ed.]Paris: Masson, 1857.

Illustration courtesy of the State Library of South Australia, Wine Literature of the World website.

Given 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 are more resistant to 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. Major variables include 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 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 Rosé, and can be transformed into a sparkling red wine. Given its well-defined characteristics, it is often blended with other grape varieties such as Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot to make world-class French Bordeaux wines. It also blends well with Australian Shiraz.

Cabernet Sauvignon accompanies a variety 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…) Bordeaux, we recommend the Steak over the Hamburger.

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