Leanne and I chat about Cabernet Sauvignon in honour of Cabernet Day, the last Thursday before Labour Day… when we need something stronger in our glass than rose ;)
Here are some quick facts you should know about Cabernet Sauvignon:
- Cabernet Sauvignon was originally created by crossing the white grape Sauvignon Blanc and the red grape Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc is the parent grape of both Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Cabernet Sauvignon is most famous in Bordeaux, France, where it’s part of a blend that can include any or all of the following grapes to increase the complexity of the final wine: Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petite Verdot.
- In the US, these blends are called Meritage.
It’s often called a donut wine with strong flavour at first first and a long finish, but lacking in the mid-palate. Needs a fleshy red like Merlot to fill that flavour “hole.”
McWilliams Wines JJ McWilliam Shiraz Cabernet 2013
South Eastern Australia, Australia
- It’s one of the world’s most popular wines and the most widely planted overall. Cabernet is also planted in many regions because its tough skin and a small grape size so it resists disease and rot.
- It’s often referred to as the king of wines because it’s full-bodied and deeply flavoured.
- Cabernet Sauvignon – Sauvignon means “wild” or savage referring to the brutal tannins. Tannins that dry feeling, not a taste, like eating walnuts. They bind with salvia, every sip makes your mouth feel dryer.
- Those tannins enable Cabernet Sauvignon to age for decades and smooth out over time as the wine becomes more complex and subtle as a result. Just how long it can age depends on how well it was made (quality of the fruit, etc).
- If you don’t have the patience or cellar space to age Cabernet, then decant it for an hour or two.
Chateau De Courteillac Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
- The Cabernet Sauvignon grape or berry is small so the ratio of the skin to flesh or pulp of the grape is higher than other grapes.
- That means it’s more flavourful and can age longer because the flavour compounds as well as the tannins are in the skins, so there’s more of them in the wine.
- Signature aromas in its youth include blackcurrant, cassis, blackberry, herbs and cedar or oak. Black fruit versus red fruit.
- As it ages, Cabernet Sauvignon takes on notes of seductive spices, anise, violets, leather, olive, tobacco and cigar box. It’s often aged in oak from 6-24 months.
Reif Estate Winery Cabernet Merlot 2017
Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario VQA, Canada
- When Cabernet goes wrong: If the grapes were not fully ripened when picked, it can have green bell pepper or weedy notes.
- There’s an aromatic compound in both Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc that’s also found in green bell peppers called pyrazines — Merlot, Carmenere, Malbec and Sauvignon Blanc have it too.
- This is the grape’s natural defense against pests in its youth since it doesn’t taste great unlike the riper and sweeter flavours that emerge as the grape ripens.
- Don’t be afraid of the herbaceous notes, they can have a pleasant flavour when in balance with other riper flavours.
Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Sonoma County, California, United States
- What’s changing is that Cabernets in warm climates aren’t as over ripe as they used to be with extremely high alcohol levels of 14% or more. Too much oak and vanilla spice. Going more for balance and elegance.
- Top 5 producers worldwide: France, Chile, the U.S., Australia and Spain
- It does especially well in regions with warm, dry conditions and a long growing season such as California, Chile, Argentina and Australia.
Hester Creek Estate Winery The Judge Golden Mile Bench 2016
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia BC VQA, Canada