Do you know what is the most planted grape in the world? It is Cabernet Sauvignon. This grape is found in almost all of the wine-growing regions with different climates and different terroirs; this means that whilst it will have the characteristic of the grape itself, it will also express the unique characteristics of the individual environment in which it grows. The Cabernet Sauvignon grape is the result of accidental breeding of two major grapes that were found in the seventeenth century in southwestern France: a red Cabernet Franc grape plant and a white Sauvignon Blanc grape plant and this then became Cabernet Sauvignon, the combination of these two parents.
A dark grape with a deep colour, high in tannin, a very pronounced aroma of black fruit character, and green bell pepper & mint, with medium to high acidity. A thick dark skin gives an easy, beautiful colour to the wine. The dark skin is also what gives the high tannin content so it is very common to soften the tannin level in wines by ageing in oak. The ageing of the wine can give an impressive layer of aroma and flavour. The tannin and acidity allow the wine to age, developing flavour over time. Winemakers love the Cabernet Sauvignon, a grape like a blank canvas upon which they can introduce their own artistic flair and flavour.
For this tasting I used the beautiful Bordeaux glass of Prizma from Schott Zwiesel, it’s a glass that pleases the eye with its sophisticated lines inside the bowl that not only look pretty when I swirl the glass but they also help with aeration, releasing the aroma of the wine.
Now let’s try some Cabernet Sauvignon! I tried the interesting Noble Vines Collection 337 Cabernet Sauvignon Lodi California 2018. They are called Noble Vines as the grapes come from vine stocks from esteemed vineyards, including the grand châteaux of Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Alsace. The name of the wine uses the number to identify the vine stock. Lodi, California, is known as the area which produces exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon, the ground is mostly cobblestone soils and the area has a cold climate. They use sustainable farming practices to ensure that the noble vines are given the best of care. The 337 Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the vine stock that originated in the great châteaux of Bordeaux, France. It has an exceptional pronounced aroma of black fruit character, blackcurrants, blackberries, black cherries, spicy black pepper, vanilla, toasty oak, earth, and leather, it amazes me how many layers of aroma can be expressed in this wine. On the palate it was fresh fruit coating the whole palate, and the layer of all expressions in the aroma was beyond measure with a very good balance of medium-plus acidity and high tannin that is very round and smooth. I am in love with this wine! This shows how a good Cabernet Sauvignon comes from excellent terroir and great winemaking.
From California to France, I take you to the Barton & Guestier Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2019 under the classification of Pays Doc IGP. Thomas Barton and Daniel Guestier were the first company that offered all the great French wines under one name. It has a beautiful colour of deep ruby with purple on the rim. A good intensity of aroma mixing with ripe black fruits, blackcurrants, blackberries, with notes of vanilla and liquorice. Medium acidity with high tannin but round and smooth on the palate and the sensation of velvety tannins on your gum gives a tingling sensation on your palate. There is a lot of minerality in the wine, I guess from the influence of the Mediterranean Sea in the Languedoc Roussillon shows in the wines. It has a long fruity aftertaste with notes of vanilla and liquorice.
Last but not least, I take you to explore a South Australian Cabernet Sauvignon, vinified in Bali by Hatten Winery, The Two Islands Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2017. The grapes come from a selected vineyard and are aged in new French oak barrels for 18 months on lees. I love oak barrels and their show in the wines, expressive black fruit character with delicious vanilla, toasty, balanced tannin and acidity. Creamy and juicy.
Since Cabernet Sauvignon is big and bold in flavour you need to pair it with big and bold food flavours. Of course it is easy to pair with almost all the red meat. The meatiness and juice of red meat goes very well with the pronounced high tannin of the wine. The fattier steak like ribeye and sirloin, served rare to medium-rare, so the fat in the meat will cut through the high tannin in the wines. Mushrooms are another food that are good to pair with the wine, the earthy mushroom is grilled with butter and garlic to complement the earthy and sometimes meaty flavour of the wine. But don’t forget the cheese, the hard and aged cheese will be delicious paired with this wine. Age in cheese goes well with age in wine. My personal version of the best pairing is a big fat juicy burger with Cabernet Sauvignon, can’t go wrong!
Head of Hatten Education Center/WSET Certified Educator