It’s the most widely planted grape in the world, and even if you’ve never touched a drop of red wine, chances are you’ve heard of Cabernet Sauvignon. But what is Cabernet Sauvignon and where does it come from?
King of the reds, it headlines the most famous and expensive wines in the world – namely the biggest names in Bordeaux – and no other grape could have coined the much-loved phrase: ‘You age like a glass of fine wine.’
A prince that shines in its youth, its concentrated blackcurrant fruit and firm tannins are built to last. And while it basks in the spotlight, these small, thick-skinned grapes are happy to blend in with the crowd and cheer the soft plummy flavours of other cherished red berries.
5 key facts about Cabernet Sauvignon
1. It’s an offspring of one of our favourite white wines
Who would have believed that Cabernet Sauvignon was related to Sauvignon Blanc?
As Oz Clarke and Margaret Rand write in their book Grapes & Wines: “Cabernet Sauvignon is a chance crossing of cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc. The clue, ironically enough, was there in the name all along – and in the flavour.”
For a tasting note, think green peppercorn, eucalyptus, dried herbs and bay leaf.
2. Bordeaux is its birthplace but it’s not the most widely planted vine there
The Left Bank (left of the Gironde River) is known for its cabernet sauvignon dominant blends – red wine appellations such a Médoc, Pauillac, St Julien. However, merlot (its half-sibling) is the most planted grape.
3. This grape is so popular, it’s grown on five continents
Relatively easy to grow as long as the sun shines. It is bottled in Europe, Chile, USA, Australia, Spain, China, Argentina, Italy, South Africa and Eastern Europe.
Top pick: Ho-Lan Soul, Organic Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Helen Mountain East, Ningxia scooped a Gold medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2019.
4. Cab sav steals the limelight in some of Italy’s most famous wines
Ever heard of a Super Tuscan? It’s a term used to describe top drops from Tuscany. They contain some grapes in the blend that aren’t native to the region. This includes the deep blackcurrant flavours of cabernet sauvignon which adds richness and structure to the local sangiovese grape.
Look out for the Sassicaia label which is cited as being ‘the first Super Tuscan.’
5. Californian Cabernet Sauvignon enjoys cult status
The Napa Valley is at the top of its wine game. These sun-kissed, opulent, velvety smooth, blockbuster reds can go the distance and reward the hedonist in the cellar for 10 years or more.
If you’re feeling plush, try Opus One. A joint venture between the late Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild, the 2015 vintage of this Bordeaux-style blend is priced in the region of £1,600 for a case of six. Well, we can always dream.
You may also be interested in…