Description 1 of 3
Species: Vitis Vinifera
Parentage: Cross between Cabernet franc & Sauvignon blanc
Aliases: Bouchet, Bouche, Petit-Bouchet, Petit-Cabernet, Petit-Vidure, Sauvignon Rouge, Bidure
Grape Color: Black
Regions: Bordeaux, Tuscany, Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Australia
Other important regions include Tuscany, Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Australia
Type(s) of Wine the Grape Produces:
Classified Bordeaux Estates, Californian cult wines
“King of the Red Wine Grapes.” The colonizer of the vineyards, pushing native wine grapes into its shadows. The Cabernet Sauvignon is wildly popular in wine regions throughout both the Old World and New World. Its most intimate roots trace back to the Bordeaux Wine Region in Southern France.
For an avid wine drinker, some major elements of the Cabernet Sauvignon are worth noting. The most distinctive element of Cabernet Sauvignon is its black currant aroma, which is present in all its wines worldwide.
Revered for being tough-skinned, its reputation in the wine world lies in its ability to age and develop maturely in a bottle. The grape’s thick skin keeps it resistant to disease while contributing to its aging expertise.
Regardless of any consistency Cabernet Sauvignon has in its aging process, each stage wildly differs from the next. An unripe Cabernet Sauvignon tastes herblike, like bellpeppers, while an overripe version tastes like...jam. And while young Cabernet Sauvignon tastes similar to black cherries and plums, a mature one brings the ever-picturesque definition of the word into the fruit, embodying the flavors of cedar, cigar boxes, and pencil shavings.
A warm climate strongly influences whether or not a ripened Cabernet Sauvignon grape should be used as a varietal or a blended component. Abundant sunshine is directly correlated with the production of varietal wines from a Cabernet Sauvignon grape, since it ripens to its fullest potential. In regions with a cooler, less ideal climate, Cabernet Sauvignon acquires a ‘green bell pepper’ flavor, as a result of not being fully ripened. In the late 20th century, they were thus coined the nickname “Monterey Veggies.” Other cooly-grown Cabernet Sauvignon flavors include mint and eucalyptus.
Though Cabernet Sauvignon has proven to be adaptable to most vineyard soil types, it has historically performed best in gravel. Gravel provides drainage as well as heat radiation, thus aiding the ripening process. For winemakers, the ultimate goal is to always, always, always allow these varietals to ripen to their highest capabilities.
Lastly, Cabernet Sauvignon has high levels of tannin. Winemakers will tell you that these varietals excrete a sense of richness, liveliness. Yet this same emphatic taste tends to overwhelm one’s palette when paired with light, delicate foods.
Je ne sais quoi, the French say. “I don’t know what.”
A little black grape in Bordeaux says otherwise.
Description 2 of 3
Cabernet Sauvignon (aka. Bouche, Bouchet, Petit-Bouchet, Petit-Cabernet, Petite Vidure, Sauvignon Rouge, Vidure) Cabernet Sauvignon's California acreage has rocketed upward over the last four decades, soaring to 40,000 acres (and growing) from only 600 acres in the early 1960s. In California, and elsewhere, Cabernet Sauvignon has brilliantly adapted to much different climactic conditions than those of its rather temperamental and marginal Bordeaux homeland. Few would argue with the proposition that Cabernet Sauvignon is the noblest of all grape varieties, and, unquestionably, along with Chardonnay it is the world’s most marketable wine variety. It is this marketability -- more than any real sense of ecological fit -- that explains Cabernet Sauvignon’s spread to red wine regions around the globe. Renowned for its high levels of extract and tannin, with classic cassis and cedar characteristics, Cabernet Sauvignon also deserves its reputation for great longevity. This grape has actually been called “the varietal without faults.” However, this is not totally true. Young wines made solely from this varietal are tightly structured, with unforgiving tannins. Knowing this, the vignerons of Bordeaux have long understood the need to blend Cabernet Sauvignon with complementary varieties, like Merlot and close cousin Cabernet Franc. This blending adds complexity and makes the wine more accessible. In California, it was not until well into the 1970s that winemakers began to recognize the merits of such blending, frustrated perhaps with the still-overpowering character of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon even after a decade of bottle age...and still "going strong"! The current popularity of California ‘Meritage’ blends reflects New World winemakers’ belated understanding of what Cabernet Sauvignon needs to excel.
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