Cabernet Sauvignon is probably the most famous red grape on earth. It has no rival in this respect other than its Bordeaux stable mate, Merlot, and its Burgundian counterpart, Pinot Noir. From its origins in Bordeaux, Cabernet has spread successfully in almost every wine country in the world. Today it is the key grape for many prime regions of the New World, including Napa Valley in the United States, Coonawarra in Australia, and Maipo Valley in Chile.
Wherever they come from, the wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon still exhibit a number of common character traits: deep color, good tannic structure, moderate acidity and characteristic aromas of blackcurrant and green pepper. Complementary aromas of raspberry, tomato leaf, dark spices, cedarwood and sometimes blueberry complete the picture.
It is used as frequently in assemblies as it is on its own. Besides the classic blends with Merlot and / or Cabernet Franc, the most popular combinations are those with Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenere (the ingredients of a classic Bordeaux blend), Shiraz (in the blend preferred by Australians) and, in Spain and South America, a Cabernet - Tempranillo blend is now common. Even Madiran wines made from Tannat are now generally sweetened with Cabernet Sauvignon.
Analysis of its DNA carried out in California in 1997 confirmed that Cabernet Sauvignon is the product of a natural genetic cross between the main Bordeaux grape varieties Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Most wine authorities agree that this crossing has only happened in the last few centuries, which makes the grape's fame and worldwide dominance all the more impressive.
Two main reasons explain the rise of Cabernet Sauvignon. The simplest and most important is that its vines adapt very well to different types of soils and climates; it is, in fact, cultivated at latitudes as disparate as 50 ° N (Okanagan in Canada) or 20 ° S (north of Argentina), and on soils as different as the gravels of Pessac-Léognan or the terra rossa rich in Coonawarra iron. In addition, despite the diversity of the terroirs on which the vines are cultivated, the wines based on Cabernet Sauvignon retain this inimitable "Cab" character, just nuanced by indications of origin.
The 1976 Paris judgment asserted that the best Cabernet Sauvignon were in Bordeaux and California; a point of view that few still dispute today.
The past two decades have seen the emergence of a large number of quality Cabernets in New World regions, such as Maipo in Chile and Coonawarra in Australia. They are gaining popularity with a growing consumer base as the prices of the world's most prestigious Cabernet Sauvignon wines become prohibitive. The grape has even conquered Italian winemakers in traditional and well-established appellations such as Chianti (although limited to 15% of the authorized blend); proof that even the oldest and most traditional wineries now recognize the value of this very famous grape.