The Cabernet Sauvignon grape is the most popular for wine making in the world. Thought to be a natural hybrid of the robust Cabernet Franc red grape and the versatile Sauvignon Blanc white grape, it can be grown in a variety of climates, although it prefers warmer climes.
The wine profiles typically show impressive aromas and flavours of blackcurrant, with a liking for oak maturation that brings through wood, vanilla and tobacco and an ability to age well in the bottle for many years. This typical profile varies according to its world region and, of course, production, so let's compare examples from its most famed world regions.
A grape that suits blending as well as varietal wines, its origins (implied by its name) are widely accepted as France, with Bordeaux Clarets famous for their blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, as well as some premium varietals, with exceptional appellations such as Margaux, Pessac-Leognan and St Julien. These wines vary dependent on their Merlot to Cabernet Sauvignon ratio, but those dominant with the latter tend to show ripe plum alongside the blackcurrant, as well as earthy notes, a strong mineral backbone and overall savoury character.
One example is Chateau Valoux Pessac-Leognan (13.5% £21.70), which blends 80% Cabernet Sauvignon to 20% Merlot. This old wine estate in the Graves region has only 10 hectares of vines in clay and limestone soils, ensuring concentrated, high quality wines with superb minerality. Full bodied and deep ruby in colour, expressive aromas of black fruits and smoke/toast balance on the palate with velvety tannins, fresh acidity and flavour intensity.
Greece makes a multitude of wines using indigenous grapes, but has found a liking for Cabernet Sauvignon in its warmer climate. In fact, there is an (unproven) theory that the grape has its roots in Greece due to its similarity to an ancient grape called Balisca.
Tsantali produce an organic Cabernet Sauvignon (14% £11.95) matured for 12 months in French oak barrels, with further ageing for 6-8 months in the bottle before release. Deep and rich in ruby red colour with an open, expressive nose of menthol and supple red berry fruits, it has an expressive and attractive palate with concentrated fruit flavours and a spiced finish. Earthy, herbal notes align on the finish with rich oak characteristics and textured tannins.
Moldova is part of the up and coming quality Cabernet Sauvignon wines from Eastern Europe, taking the wine world's breath away with wines that can certainly rival those of Bordeaux. This expertise from cooler climes must not be underestimated, with great care taken to achieve the perfect European expression of the grape.
Merry Mole present a Cabernet Sauvignon Rose wine (13% £9.30) using hand harvested grapes from the sunny slopes of the Aneni Nai region. Off dry and medium bodied, it bursts with ripe summer fruits, hinting at the traditional blackcurrant alongside red plum and raspberry.
Heading to the New World, South Africa is a prime example of making Cabernet Suvignon one of their own. Ideally suited for their warm climate, it is known for producing varietal wines more than blends, similar to California. Wines are typically rich in tannins, concentrated in flavour (of dark fruit and herbaceous layers) and full bodied in texture.
The world renowned Cederberg vineyard produces a premium Cabernet Sauvignon (14% £37.15) showcasing a 32-year single vineyard wine. With a limited 3400 bottle production, hand-crafted and classically styled it is truly of a different league. A classically dry finish with just a touch of Merlot added, rich and full of dark fruit. 100% new French oak aging for 18 months adds complexity to the intense, multi-layered plum, cassis and blackcurrant flavours, with decadent dark chocolate, cherry tobacco some earthy tones.
South America brings altogether unique Cabernet Sauvignon wines, with Chilean and Argentinianwinemakers wowing the world. Replace some of the herbacous profile with chocolate and vanilla, and more explosive fruit alongside full, velvety testure, and you have a beautiful profile.
Maray Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile (14% £13.40) hails from Maipo Valley where soils are known for their mineral qualities. Classic ripe fruit flavours combine with blackberries, prunes and black pepper. French oak maturation brings forward vanilla and toasty notes for a smooth roundness and exquisite elegance.