View Full Version : Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Cabernet

Mick Pacholli
13th July 2013, 03:11 PM
Cabernet Sauvignon has been dubbed the “King of Red Grapes”. And for good reason. Considered one of the “noble” grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon produces complex, aromatic, full-flavoured medium to full-bodied reds with refined texture and structure, typically firm tannins, and long, lingering flavours.To really appreciate different wine styles, it helps to have a good understanding of the basics of each variety’s individual personality so we know what to expect when we open the bottle. Country of origin and winemaking techniques aside, each variety has inherent qualities that make it unique and give the wine its varietal stamp. So today, the spotlight’s on Cabernet Sauvignon, one of the world’s (and our) most popular wines.BackgroundCabernet Sauvignon is believed to have originated from a happy accident back in 17th century France – the chance crossing of the varieties Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Today it is one of the world’s most widely planted varieties, found in most wine growing countries around the globe from Australia to Italy, South Africa to North and South America, and of course in France. Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the key varieties of Bordeaux, dominating the famous blends of the region’s Left Bank.The GrapeCabernet Sauvignon grapes are small and round with very tough, thick skins which are deeply coloured blue-black. There is not a lot of flesh, or pulp, to a Cabernet Sauvignon grape berry, which means the ratio of skins and seeds to pulp is high. As all the colour and tannin, and most of the flavour, resides in the skins and seeds, resulting wines are generously proportioned in all three – flavour, colour and tannin.
http://www.tooraktimes.com.au/~/media/Wolf Blass/Images/From Our Winery Blog/Eden Valley Cabernet.ashxCabernet Sauvignon enjoys moderate cool to warm climates without too many extremes, and grows best in poor deep gravel soils on gentle slopes. It is hardy and resists disease and frosts well. As it ripens later than varieties like Shiraz or Merlot, too cool a climate can challenge its ability to get fully ripe which can sometimes result in overly tannic wines with “greener” fruit characters. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes contain compounds called “methoxy-pyrazines” which lend the variety its herbaceous aroma and flavour compounds. These are broken down with exposure to sunlight as the grapes ripen but in cooler climates or vintages, these characters will be more evident.The All Important Flavour ProfileSo what sorts of flavours can you expect from your glass of Cabernet Sauvignon? From cooler climates to warmer climates, here’s a list of a few characters fruit characters you might expect to see:Asparagus
Green Beans
Green Peppers
Green Olives
Dried Herbs
Black Olives
Mint (either choc mint and/or fresh mint)
Graphite (think lead pencils)
Black Cherries
Dark Plums
Plum Pudding
Dark ChocolateLiquoriceAs the wines start to age, more savoury, developed, secondary characters start to show, such as tobacco, cigar box, earthiness and leather.StyleYes, Cabernet Sauvignon is all about style! A high quality, sophisticated style worthy of its gentle nobility. But seriously, most Cabernets tend to be rich and dark in colour, with medium to full-bodied palates. The aromatics are complex and fragrant and the palate is concentrated, layered and refined with fine, firm tannins lending structure and texture. Cabernet Sauvignon's palate profile is generally very long, and tends towards a more linear rather than rounder sensation in the mouth. Cabernet Sauvignon from warmer climates will generally offer a plusher, rounder palate with softer tannins.The high tannin levels in Cabernet Sauvignon contribute to the variety’s ability to age well, with the tannins softening as the wine evolves over time.WinemakingCabernet Sauvignon is a wine that’s often blended with other varieties. In fact, almost all Bordeaux wines are a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Although the purists will argue that such a noble variety should always stand alone, there are advantages of blending it with varieties like Merlot or Shiraz which have soft, round, fleshy middle palates to soften the blend and fill in the “gaps”. Cabernet Sauvignon is sometimes described as a “doughnut” wine as it is all upfront and finish, without much in the middle. This is especially true of cooler climate Cabernets – warmer climates will generally produce inherently softer mid-palates.Cabernet also has a great affinity for oak, especially French oak which supports and complexes the wine without overwhelming its refined, complex characters. Oak maturation offers a perceived sweetness in the middle palate, helps to soften tannins and imparts delicious complexities of cedar, spice and subtle vanilla.Food Pairing
http://www.tooraktimes.com.au/~/media/Wolf Blass/Images/From Our Winery Blog/Yellow Label Cabernet.ashxAs a full-flavoured, structured wine, Cabernet Sauvignon works well with full-flavoured foods. Red meats, especially those with roasted, grilled or charred flavours are the perfect foil. Beef, lamb, kangaroo, venison and game. Roast Lamb with Mint Sauce is a classic match with Cabernet Sauvignon.Foods with high fat content and rich buttery or creamy sauces will help to balance and neutralise the tannins, as do soft, rich cheeses such as aged Cheddar, or even a Brie, but avoid intensely flavoured blue cheese which can clash and overpower the wine.Savoury, umami flavours also work well, as do mushrooms, vegetables and hearty pasta dishes. Gentler spices like black pepper are a better match than hot chilli spices – try a Pepper Steak or Beef in Black Bean Sauce.And finally, Cabernet Sauvignon tastes great with high cocoa dark chocolate – the perfect end to dinner!A Few Wolf Blass Cabernets and BlendsSingle Varietal Cabernet Sauvignon:Grey Label Langhorne Creek Cabernet Sauvignon (http://www.wolfblasswines.com/en/our-wines/grey-label/cabernet-sauvignon.aspx)Gold Label Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon (http://www.wolfblasswines.com/en/our-wines/gold-label/cabernet-sauvignon.aspx)Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon (http://www.wolfblasswines.com/en/our-wines/yellow-label/cabernet-sauvignon.aspx)*(our most popular wine!)Cabernet-dominant Blends:Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz Malbec (http://www.wolfblasswines.com/en/our-wines/black-label/cabernet-sauvignon-shiraz-malbec.aspx)Grey Label Langhorne Creek Cabernet Shiraz (http://www.wolfblasswines.com/en/our-wines/grey-label/cabernet-shiraz.aspx)Silver Label Langhorne Creek Cabernet Merlot (http://www.wolfblasswines.com/en/our-wines/silver-label/cabernet-sauvignon-merlot.aspx)Red Label Cabernet Merlot (http://www.wolfblasswines.com/en/our-wines/red-label/cabernet-sauvignon-merlot.aspx)

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