What is Cabernet Sauvignon?
Cabernet Sauvignon is a full body wine with moderate acidity and tannin. Dark fruit flavours with leather, bell pepper and baking spice notes. Its parents are Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.
In this post, we’ll cover some quick facts on the Cab Sauv wine varietal and give you an in-depth analysis of the wine profile to help you understand the Vitis vinifera var Cabernet Sauvignon grape variety.
Table of Contents
- Introductory Wine Profile / Quick Facts
- Advanced Wine Profile / Dig Deeper
What colour wine is Cabernet Sauvignon?
Cabernet Sauvignon ranges from medium ruby to a magenta colour. This wine is not quite as deep in colour or opaque as Syrah but maintains a slight translucency at a young age.
Wine Body Type
Cabernet Sauvignon can be classified as a medium-to-full bodied wine.
Is Cabernet Sauvignon dry or sweet?
Flavours & Aromas
- Fruit: blackberry, black currant, black cherry
- Floral Violets
- Herbal/Vegetal: bell pepper
- Earth/Other: baking spices, vanilla, leather, graphite, lead pencil
What foods go with Cabernet Sauvignon wine?
Wine & Cheese Pairings for Cabernet Sauvignon: Strong, hard cheeses
Meat Pairings for Cab Sauv: Steak, barbecued & red meats
Cabernet Sauvignon & Vegetable Pairing: Portobello Mushrooms, grilled vegetables, especially bell peppers
How to Serve this Wine
How do you drink Cabernet Sauvignon?
To get the best flavour out of your wine, you should serve Cabernet Sauvignon at 15-18°C (55-65°F).
Comparable Wine Styles
What is Cabernet Sauvignon similar to?
Top Cabernet Sauvignon Producing Countries
Old World Regions
- Bordeaux, France
- Tuscany, Italy
New World Regions
- Napa Valley, California, USA
- Washinton, USA
Our favourite examples of this wine varietal
What is the scientific name for Cabernet Sauvignon?
The scientific name for Cabernet Sauvignon is Vitus vinifera Cabernet Sauvignon comes from two grapes: Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is believed that in the 17th century there was a chance crossing between the two grapes. Sauvignon is believed to have come from the French word “sauvage” meaning “wild” in reference to the vine growing wild throughout France.
Synonyms of this Wine Varietal
Bordeaux, Meritage, Super Tuscan
What are the characteristics of Cabernet Sauvignon?
Cabernet Sauvignon typically possesses very dark fruits, like blackcurrant, black cherries, and blackberries. Used as one of the main blending components in Bordeaux wines, you can almost always smell a dark cherry and earthy aroma, a very pleasing and recognizable Bordeaux feature. Cedar, tobacco, licorice, and vanilla are also common.
One interesting feature of Cabernet Sauvignon is the “green bell pepper” aroma that is very common, especially cooler climate Cab Sauv’s. This is because the grape contains pyrazines, a chemical compound that breaks down as the grape ripens. Cab sauv grapes are late to flower and ripen, and the earlier they are picked, the more pyrazines are present, giving a very vegetal, green bell pepper aroma to the wine. This is not considered a fault in the wine, however, some consumers simply don’t like it.
The hotter the climate, the more jammy fruit characteristics are present. These tend to be the “new world” wines from Australia and Chile. Interestingly, Coonawarra (Australia) wines have a particularly minty, eucalyptus profile.
Aroma, Flavours & Mouthfeel of Cabernet Sauvignon Wine
What does a Cabernet Sauvignon taste like?
Medium to dark-coloured wine, depending on where it’s grown (moderate climate Cab Sauv leans to the slightly lighter than dark, hot climate wines tend to be quite dark), full body with deep red garnet tones.
In what conditions does Cabernet Sauvignon grow?
Cabernet Sauvignon is a hearty grape that grows well in most climates and conditions. It is a late budding flower, often several weeks after Merlot and Cabernet Franc. This, in turn, means it is late to ripen grape, which can be tricky in continental climates like Bordeaux. In consistent hot climates, it is often planted in vineyards with full sun to give the grape a fruity, jammy profile (the more sun the grape gets, the more fruit-forward it will be). It grows in a variety of soils and elevations, from rocky granite to iron-rich. The flavours of the wine are not necessarily impacted by the soil as much as they are by climate. The longer the bunches hang on the vine, the more sun they receive, the riper they become.
Cabernet Sauvignon’s parentage was a long-held mystery, with some believing it was a native French wild vine to an ancient grape from Rome. In 1996, with the magic of modern DNA testing, it was found to be the love child of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, hence the common name Cabernet Sauvignon we know today. It possesses certain characteristics of each parent, from the dark fruit notes from the Cabernet Franc to the grassy, herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc.
Viticulture: About the Grapevine
The vine itself grows well in most soil conditions, however, gravel-based vines that are well-drained tend to radiate more heat to the vine and fruit, aiding the ripening process. Clay and limestone soils hold on to that heat, delaying the ripening process. In hotter climates, the less fertile the soil the better, as the vine is forced to store nutrients and root deeper into the ground to look for water. This can produce lower grape yields, but the flavour concentration of the fruit is higher. Generally, the vine is prone to high yields that can sometimes result in less flavourful fruit. Wineries, particularly in cooler climates, have to be prudent in their pruning practises, to ensure the vines are properly balanced with the appropriate amount of foliage to fruit ratio.
Viticulture: About the Grape
The grape is dark-coloured, almost black, with long hanging bunches. It is not prone to many diseases, except for powdery mildew. The skins are thick and give the wine a strong tannin backbone.
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Red Wine Types – Popular Varietals
- Pinot Noir
- Petit Verdot
- Syrah (aka Shiraz)
- Petite Sirah (aka Durif)
- Cabernet Sauvignon
White Wines Types – Popular Varietals