The Dirt on (and Under) Cabernet Sauvignon

The who, what, why, where, when and how of this mighty black grape


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The Dirt on (and Under) Cabernet Sauvignon Genetics

Cabernet Sauvignon has been around and has been a success for a long, long while, but its origins were only recently discovered.

A University of Davis duo discovered just 12 years ago that its parents are Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Chances are the cross arose in the 17th century in Bordeaux, when field blends were the norm. A field blend refers to a vineyard planted with many different varieties that are also picked and vinified together. You can see the family resemblances:

•    Green bell pepper from Mom (Sauvignon Blanc)
•    Lean structure from Dad (Cabernet Franc)
•    Weediness when picked too early = both the folks

This also explains why Cabernet Franc was well-established in the vineyards of southwest France and mentioned in Bordelais literature long before Cabernet Sauvignon.

Bordeaux image via Shutterstock

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  • Snooth User: gustavoa
    130884 1

    I can see this to have some true, I am a Cabernet lover and on the white wines side I had always prefer Sauvignon Blanc.

    Dec 04, 2012 at 1:35 PM

  • Snooth User: EMark
    Hand of Snooth
    847804 9,023

    Very interesting article. Thank you.

    Dec 04, 2012 at 6:20 PM

  • What an enjoyable,concise and well written article. Thanks.

    Dec 04, 2012 at 6:49 PM

  • Wow! Sauvignon Blanc. I would never have guessed.

    Dec 04, 2012 at 11:13 PM

  • Snooth User: zinfandel1
    Hand of Snooth
    154660 1,085

    Love the article.
    My question is: What did cabernet franc lack as far as not being able to be competitive with cabernet sauvignon?

    Dec 12, 2012 at 8:55 PM

  • Snooth User: Christy Canterbury MW
    Hand of Snooth
    1060100 93,448

    Zinfandel1, To be PC, it's not that CF "lacks" something but rather that it's just different. In fact, in the vineyard, CF offers some important pluses over CS. CF ripens more easily & is more resistant to inclement weather at harvest. However, CF has less color and less structure (despite its bright acidity) than CS. Also, CS produces more flavor power than CF in milder climates like Bordeaux. So, essentially, CS is better equipped for longer aging.

    Dec 13, 2012 at 8:42 AM

  • Snooth User: Christy Canterbury MW
    Hand of Snooth
    1060100 93,448

    Thanks to everyone for the kind comments! Glad you enjoyed this piece.

    Dec 13, 2012 at 8:43 AM

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    2200059 22

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