Cabernet Sauvignon, to misquote an old cliche: is the elephant in your winery. This is the only red grape variety that is well-known and widely recognized. It’s enough to say “Cab” to refer to Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s logical: Cabernet Sauvignon is the foundation of many of the world’s most popular and exciting wines, including Bordeaux and Napa Valley.
Check out our Cabernet Sauvignon guide to learn more about its impact on wines from around the globe at all price points.
What is Cabernet Sauvignon?
Cabernet Sauvignon, also known as the grape variety Cabernet Sauvignon, has been a significant influence on wine around the world. It is the sole performer for varietally labeled wines from Sonoma, Napa Valley, Argentina, Chile, Israel, Australia…the list goes on. If you name a major wine-producing country or region, they will likely grow and bottle Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Sauvignon also makes a great blending partner. In Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon plays a crucial role in Left Bank blends. Despite its fame, Cabernet Sauvignon also produces more affordable wines: You can find plentiful Cabs or blends based on Cabs for under $20. Cabernet Sauvignon has remarkable versatility.
Where is Cabernet Sauvignon produced?
Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in many countries and wine regions. The Cab can also be adapted to various microclimates and soils. This means that producers and growers around the globe have had success with Cab. Cabernet Sauvignon is produced in many regions, but Napa Valley, Bordeaux, and other well-known ones are the most notable. Napa Valley producers use warmth and sunshine to create Cabs with power, generosity, and ripe fruits. Most California Cabs have a varietally-labeled label, meaning only Cabernet Sauvignon is on the bottle.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the foundation of many of Napa’s most sought-after cult wines, including Harlan Estate and Screaming Eagle. For some consumers, Silver Oak, Caymus, and Alpha Omega are synonymous with their grape varieties. The Cab is often the primary component of blends in Bordeaux, particularly on the Left Bank. This usually includes Merlot Cabernet, Franc Petit Verdot, and Malbec. The grape dominates Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Mouton Rothschild, and others.
The cooler climate of Bordeaux produces Cabernet-based blends that are less powerful and ripe than those from Napa Valley. They also tend to have more cedar and graphite notes and herbal notes. Other countries use their unique conditions to create Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine that reflects their region.
Why drink Cabernet Sauvignon?
Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine that’s hard to avoid, given its popularity with grape growers and winemakers. It also has a lot of retailers and sommeliers. It’s still important to understand that Cabernet Sauvignon can express itself differently depending on the region it was grown. The flavors of Cabernet Sauvignon can range from powerful and ripe to herbal and savory, depending on your taste.
Some characteristics are common to all grapes, and they are what make them so popular. Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent food partner. The higher levels of Tannin in Cab and its ability to express oak aging make it the perfect companion to meat. Cab pairs wonderfully, From grilled steak Steaks to Lamb Chops to Roasted Duck and many more entrees. Salmon is an excellent example of how red wine and fish work together. This wine pairs well with various kinds of cheese, especially hard cheeses from cow’s milk. It can also be used to frame chocolate dishes. Just avoid using too sweet chocolates as they will make
Due to the high tannin levels, a Cabernet Sauvignon bottle or glass must get enough air. This will allow it to open up and express its full potential. Consider decanting the bottle. Most people decant the most expensive or oldest red wines. However, even the most modestly priced Cabernet Sauvignon can benefit from some time in a decanter.
Of course, collectors clamor to get their hands on the best Cabernet Sauvignon wines in the world. They are not only investments but part of many collectors’ collections. Top-name Cabernets like Don Melchor and Jordan, Scarecrow, and any Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard wine are featured prominently in wine cellars or on restaurant wine. While there are many Cabs meant to be consumed in a short period (the increasingly popular wines that have been aged in bourbon casks are an example), other Cabs can age. Cabernet Sauvignon can do anything.
What does Cabernet Sauvignon taste Like?
Cabernet Sauvignon is known to have aromas of currants, cherries, brambly berries, and vanilla. If it has been aged in oak, the flavors and aromas will be enhanced by chocolate. You’ll also find cedar, pencil lead, mineral, and sweet spice. If grown in a cool climate, you’d get more vegetal notes, such as bell Cabernet Sauvignon has more tannins and a heavier texture than Merlot. It also boasts a richer flavor than Pinot Noir. It can also accumulate sugar during the growing period, causing alcohol levels to rise above 15%, particularly in sunny regions or hot vintages. However, many Cabs are lower. This wide range of characteristics makes it best to enjoy Cabernet Sauvignon in a large glass slightly below room temperature, as with other richer reds, a warm Cabernet Sauvignon will taste stewed or cooked.
Five great Cabernet Sauvignon Wines
Today, there are many great Cabernet Sauvignons on the market. The five producers listed alphabetically are the perfect place to explore what Cabernet Sauvignon can offer.
Cade Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
Cade is one of Napa Valley’s most prestigious Cab producers. Cade produces Cabernet Sauvignon that stands out year after year.
Chateau Margaux is one of four First Growths (there are five now; Chateau Mouton Rothschild was raised in 1973). Chateau Margaux is a grand red wine of elegance, complexity, and spice.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon
Chateau Ste. Michelle makes a variety of Cabernet Sauvignon blends and Cabernet-based wines. They are generally accessible, reasonably priced, and the perfect example of why Washington State is so exciting for Cab.
Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon
The Errazuriz Max Reserva, grown in the Aconcagua Valley of Chile, proves that a Cab worthy of aging can be cheap.
Yalumba Cabernet Sauvignon
Australia has Cabernet Sauvignon wines ranging from $10 to hundreds of dollars. Yalumba Y Series Cab can be enjoyed daily, while their Signature Cabernet – Shiraz blend suits special occasions. There are also other Cab-based choices.