Classic aromas of Cabernet Sauvignon are: Black Currants, Black Plum, Black Cherry, Blackberry Jam, Vanilla Bean and Green Capsicum
Cabernet Sauvignon is a red grape from Bordeaux, France. It is possibly the best known red grape variety, if not red or white grape, in the world. It has a long history in making some of the best wines in the world for many hundreds of years. It was first catalogued in 1784 as ‘Petit Cabernet’ in Pauillac. Here it was noted as ‘top quality for making good wine, rather productive and deep coloured’. Since then it has taken the world by storm and is found in nearly every single wine region in the world.
As a grape it is actually a natural crossing of two other famous grapes; Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. The resulting wines of Cabernet Sauvignon are high in tannin, acidity and body, with a deep ruby or purple colour. The key aroma of Cabernet Sauvignon is blackcurrant. Depending on where it is planted around the world it also has strong black fruit aromas such as plums, blackberries. As it matures more oak and tertiary flavour aromas appear – the leaders being cedar, cigar box, pencil shavings, dates and raisins. Cabernet Sauvignon from younger vines or cooler climates will often have a more herbaceous note, suggesting green bell pepper flavours.
Cabernet Sauvignon is planted in all established wine regions around the world. Everywhere from Bordeaux to Bulgaria, New York to New Zealand, Austria to Australia and everywhere in between. In warm or hot climates, like those found in Chile, South Africa or California, Cabernet Sauvignon will often have a strong dark fruit aroma with more blackberry, black cherry and currant flavours. In particularly ripe wines there will also be a fair amount of dried fruit and jammy flavours – a key South African Cabernet Sauvignon will often have blackberry jam flavours.
It seems that when ever Cabernet Sauvignon is mentioned so is Merlot. This comes from the classic ‘Bordeaux Blend’ which has a base of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, though in fact the other three grapes of the famous blend are: Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. These five grapes will generally always be found together in vineyards with winemakers the world over attempting to recreate their own take on a Bordeaux, or Claret. In these blends Cabernet Sauvignon will give hauntingly beautiful aromas of blackcurrants and plums as well as tannins and colour.
Whether by itself or in a blend, good Cabernet Sauvignon commands an audience like no other. There is a very good reason that some of the most expensive and rare bottles in the world happen to be made with a Cabernet Sauvignon base – it just is a fantastic grape. Fruity and juicy when young, and beautifully complex when mature.