Cabernet Sauvignon Wines
From the grape variety considered by some to be the king of grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon wines are some of the most popular and widespread in the world. The grape is a dark colored, thick skinned variety which is capable of producing wines of full body and powerful structure.
Cabernet Sauvignon comes from Bordeaux in the southwest of France. In particular, the wines produced in the villages on the Left Bank of the river are known for their high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon, usually blended with other red grapes. One the Right Bank of the river, Merlot is generally more prevalent.
Cabernet Sauvignon has spread around the world and is grown just about everywhere, from California to Lebanon. Besides Bordeaux, some of the most famous examples come from Tuscany in Italy, California and Australia.
In both Bordeaux and other regions, while some Cabernet is bottled alone, most wines are blends with small amounts of other grapes. In Bordeaux the five primary grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. These other grapes are often blended with Cabernet in varying quantities.
Where Are Cabernet Sauvignon Wines Made?
As mentioned above, Bordeaux is the home of Cabernet Sauvignon. Most wines coming from the villages of the Left Bank of Bordeaux have a large majority of Cabernet in the blend with varying amounts of the other allowed grapes. In the Left Bank there are a handful of villages which are considered the best, although wines are made from many surrounding areas. These most famous villages are Pauillac, St. Julien, St. Estephe, Margaux, and Pessac-Léognan in Graves. From these villages come hundreds of wines from various domaines. The most famous, and most expensive, wines are the First Growth wines which include Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Latour, and Château Mouton-Rothschild in Pauillac, Château Margaux in Margaux, and Château Haut-Brion in Pessac-Léognan.
In the Right Bank of Bordeaux (in villages such as Pomerol, St. Emilion and others), Cabernet Sauvignon is produced but is a more minor grape with Merlot and/or Cabernet Franc taking center stage.
In France, Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in various other regions and can be a primary grape or a smaller part of a blend. This occurs in other regions in the southwest (such as Fronton, Madiran and others), as well as in the south (various parts of the Languedoc-Roussillon) and in the Loire (usually just small amounts blended with Cabernet Franc.
Elsewhere, Cabernet Franc wines are widespread. Still in Europe, the grape variety has become very common in parts of Spain and Italy. While the traditional wines from these countries use indigenous grapes, in some, such as in Tuscany in Italy, Cabernet is often a major grape, as in many so-called Super Tuscan wines.
Important examples of Cabernet Sauvignon wine are produced in many parts of California, particularly in Napa Valley. Other areas where notable Cabernet is produced include Australia, Washington and others.
What Styles of Wine Does Cabernet Sauvignon Produce and What Do They Taste Like?
Cabernet Sauvignon is a dark grape with thick skin that typically produces a full-bodied, dark wine with rich tannins. The fruit flavors are often compared to black currants or cassis (a black currant liquor) which other aromas and flavors such as pencil lead, cedar and tobacco are not uncommon, particularly in the wines of Bordeaux.
As a generalization, the wines of Bordeaux tend to be more earthy and mineral, with a firm backbone whereas the Cabernet of California and Australia tend to be riper. Examples from any of these regions can be quite long-lived. Very young Bordeaux can be hard to assess and may need years or decades to come into their own.
The best Cabernet Sauvignon wines have a powerful and regal stature and despite their power and richness are capable of elegance and finesse to their textures. Some of these have been described as an "iron fist in a velvet glove" because of the contrast between power and density with velvety texture.
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