Grape Profile
Cabernet Sauvignon


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Cabernet Sauvignon

The Globetrotting Regal Red

From its Bordeaux power-base, Cabernet Sauvignon became, during the 20th century, one (if not the most) well-known and widely planted international grape variety.No matter where it’s grown, from Pauillac to Penedès, from Napa to Coonawarra, it always manages to taste unmistakably like a Cabernet Sauvignon.


Cabernet Sauvignon has a tell-tale fruit flavour of blackcurrant, often with varying degrees of green bell peppers to add an herbal kick. It often also has a distinct mint aroma.

One of Cabernet Sauvignon’s biggest upsides is that the subtle flavours can develop over many years, often many decades, eventually showing interesting notes of cedar, tobacco, and leather.

Style Range

High-quality expensively produced (and even more expensively bought) examples are some of the world’s finest red wines available.Cabernet Sauvignon has a strong affinity to tight-grained French oak and will take on the subtle flavours without damaging its powerful and age-worthy structure.

Cheaper versions, from higher yielding clones, will have more diluted flavour and looser tannin structure. But they will always be unmistakably Cabernet Sauvignon.

Food Pairings

Even entry-level Cabernet Sauvignon usually has ripe dark fruits and solid tannic structure, and is great with most red meat dishes, from the Sunday roast to a cheeky burger.

With high quality, aged examples you can push the boat a little bit, with earthier tasting dishes, such as game and mushroom-based stews.

If you’ve got the kitchen skills then Beef Wellington is a good shout.

Growing Regions

FRANCE – Bordeaux
“Cabernet Sauvignon doesn’t like wet feet”, so the gravelly, well drained soils of Bordeaux left bank are perfectly suited.  Always used as part of a blend with the other reds of the region, Cabernet Sauvignon plays a major role in the First Growth properties like Latour and Mouton Rothschild, often making up 75% of the blend.

FRANCE – Languedoc
Grown as a varietal wine and blending component, it’s often too hot here to allow for any high quality flavour to develop.

By far the most popular international variety grown in China, with the Ningxia region beginning to produce some top examples. China is planting widely and will likely become the world’s biggest producer of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Cabernet Sauvignon is the most important red variety in Chile, where the central valley produces plenty of very ripe and healthy fruit for the mass market.Further into the hills the slower ripening vineyards produce some top class and good value examples.

Cabernet Sauvignon is where the cult of Napa really hit its straps.California has become Cabernet Sauvignon’s second home with the single varietal “Priority Reds” fetching a pretty penny from LA to Las Vegas.

Napa Cab’s have truly achieved cult status with their powerful tannins, flavour concentration and intense lingering mintiness.

Also planted widely in Washington State, Oregon, Texas, and Arizona.

Possibly one of the finest examples of Cabernet Sauvignon in the world is a well-made red from Coonawarra.Many producers also look to blend Cabernet Sauvignon with Shiraz for even more powerful wines and often in the classic Bordeaux Blend with Merlot and Petit Verdot.

Planted in New Zealand, but a long way behind Pinot Noir as the nation’s favourite red variety, with Syrah a comfortable second.

South Africa plants a lot of Cabernet Sauvignon but often this is a blending component for Bordeaux Blends.Syrah is, once again, more widely planted.

Grown widely in South America in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, Peru and Bolivia.

Used as a blending component sometimes in Rioja in Spain and is often blended with Tempranillo in Catalunya.

Italian plantings are on the rise as the cult of the Super Tuscans ever increases, with producers like Sassicaia producing splendid wines.

Grown widely in South America in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, Peru and Bolivia.

It is also planted across the Balkans and the Middle East, with Lebanon’s Château Musar doing so much for the fame of the Bekaa Valley.

If you love Cabernet Sauvignon you should also explore….


They’re not massively similar, but they do compete for the attention of the world’s fine wine lovers. Try them next to each other and compare and contrast.

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Another grape that is mostly renowned for the wood-worked examples and has comparable flavor depth and tannic structure.

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