5 Cab World Domination Facts

10 June 2015

From very cold areas like New Zealand's South Island to Lebanon's warm Bekka Valley.


Genetics might have something to do with it. Many ampelographers maintain that Cabernet Sauvignon is the result of crossing Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. Good genes, no doubt about it.

1.2 Vineyard field notes

- Low-yielding variety (between 1 and 1.5 kg/ha). Produces a slightly lower amount of must compared to other varieties due to the thickness of its skin. This is why the variety also boasts the highest levels of phenolic compounds: tannins and color.

- The plant is resistant to rot and insect attacks, but susceptible to powdery mildew.

- Bud break happens late, which reduces the chance of damage by feared springtime frosts.

- Along with Chardonnay, it is one of the two big survivors of phylloxera.

1.3 The world domination of Cabernet

The Cab-producing powerhouses

- France (Bordeaux), United States (Napa Valley), Australia (Coonawarra), New Zealand (Hawke's Bay), Chile (Maipo Valley), Italy

Widely used in blends

- Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Argentina

And yes, here too...

- Lebanon, Morocco, Israel, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovenia


Of all the varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon has the greatest and best aging potential. It produces wines that are tannic, very full bodied, with deeply concentrated pigment and relatively high acidity—all factors that benefit prolonged aging beautifully.

2.1 Time is on its side

· First in the barrel and then in the bottle, Cabernet gives us elegantly complex wines with a firm structure that remain vibrant for decades.

· The flavors and aromas associated with long aging include the following:

· Smoke

· Coffee

· Pepper

· Tobacco

· Cedar

2.2 Youthful aromas

In its youth, Cabernet also reveals its elegant varietal personality. Depending on its place of origin and the climate, it will display different distinctive characteristics:

Cold climate Cabs:

· Herbaceous notes

· Mint

· Green pepper

· Cedar

Mild and warm climate Cabs:

· Black cherry

· Blackcurrant

· Black olive

· Redcurrant jam


Cabernet plays a role in countless blends around the world. Here winemakers seek out its tannins and structure, especially in blends with lower-tannin varieties like Merlot, Cabernet Franc or Tempranillo. That being said, it also gets along beautifully with higher-tannin varieties like Syrah or Sangiovese.

3.1 Part of the world's most famous blend

Since we're on the topic of blends, here is the most famous of them all, the Bordeaux coupage: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. It is up to the enologist to decide the proportions based on the batches of wine, but generally speaking these are the roles played by each of the three varieties that make up this legendary coupage:

· Cabernet provides structure and aging potential.

· Merlot takes care of intensity and aromatic complexity.

· Finally, Cabernet Franc adds nuances to the overall blend, as well as its inherent elegance.

· Malbec and Petit Verdot are also added to the blend, but in smaller quantities. Both contribute color and aging potential.

Other legendary wine regions like Chianti (Tuscany) and Priorat (where the variety is blended with Garnacha and Cariñena) also feature Cab among the varieties approved by their respective Regulatory Councils.

With regard to the Italian region, Cabernet can only make up less than 30% of the blend, because the wines produced under the Chianti name must be 70% Sangiovese, the region's indigenous grape.


· Médoc in Bordeaux, Coonawarra in Australia, Napa Valley in California and Mendoza in Argentina—all regions with a long history of quality winemaking—fly the Cabernet flag.

· Recently, Tuscany (Italy) and Douro (Portugal) have begun making magnificent wines that give the variety a whole new dimension. The resulting wines are reds of astounding depth.

· Vega Sicilia, Jean Leon, Torres and other leading wineries in the country feature Cabernet in their most internationally renowned wines.

Although each wine is very different, marked by an individual personality and well-defined characteristics, they are all leading legendary examples of high-quality wines. And of course, there is another shared constant: Cabernet.

Rafa Moreno
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