Quick Guide to Cabernet Sauvignon

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Cabernet Sauvignon reigns king over the world's red wine grapes and keeps its historical and regional roots firmly planted in France, specifically Bordeaux. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes grow well in warmer climes with plenty of sunshine and a variety of soil conditions. Typically viewed as a fairly robust wine with good tannin structure, solid acidity, and rich, dark fruit aromas and flavor components, Cabernet Sauvignon is truly an international grape variety, building wine bridges across regions and cultures. 

Cabernet Sauvignon Around the Globe

This is a grape that gives full expression to place and tends to show riper fruit character from warmer New World wine regions like California, Washington, Chile, and Australia. California's Napa Valley has built a reputation on the back of Cabernet Sauvignon, creating some serious palate power, often higher alcohol levels and remarkable aging potential. In Old World regions, like Italy and France, Cabernet Sauvignon is most often blended. Bordeaux's best blends consist primarily of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cab Franc (Quick Tip: for higher percentages of Cab in the bottle look to vineyards and producers that are located on the proverbial "left bank" of the Gironde River). In Italy, Cabernet Sauvignon is typically found in the gutsy "Super Tuscan," a red wine blend that falls outside of Italy's strict DOC appellation regulations. Super Tuscans lean heavily on the Sangiovese grape with a good mix of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the blend. 

Flavor Profile

Cabs are decidedly dry in style and range from medium-bodied to full-bodied. They are characterized by higher tannins, which serve to provide structure and complexity while supporting the rich dark fruit characteristics. The most common aromatic and flavor components found in Cabernet Sauvignon are plum, black cherry, blackberry, blueberry, warm spice, vanilla, black pepper, tobacco and sometimes leather aromas and or flavors.

Food Pairings

Thanks to the tighter tannins in Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine is built for fat and protein. Red meat, in particular, is its first love. Everything from burgers and brats to prime rib and grilled game, hearty, sausage dishes, lamb and strong-flavored cheese (think Stilton, cheddar, Gruyere) all find their mark with a Cab. 

Key Producers to Try

  • Shafer Vineyards
  • Caymus
  • Beaulieu Vineyard
  • Mondavi
  • Chateau Maucaillou Le Bordeaux
  • Beringer
  • Penfolds
  • Grgich Hills
  • Greg Norman
  • Hall
  • Clos du Val
  • Ridge
  • Sterling Vineyards
  • Pine Ridge
  • Ramey
  • Paul Hobbs
  • Joseph Phelps
  • Screaming Eagle
  • Stag's Leap Wine Cellars
  • Chateau St. Jean
  • Souverain
  • Rubicon
  • McManis
  • Hogue
  • Jardin
  • Montes
  • Concha Y Toro
  • Columbia-Crest

Pronunciation: Cah-bur-nay Saw-vee-nyonh

Also Known As Cab