The biddies maybe should have saved the best for last but due to typical organization dysfunction, we’re talking about the king of grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon today! Tune in to learn about this grape’s origins, the France versus California battles, where you can find Cab Sauv today, and how to pick one you’ll like.

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Sources:

Wine Enthusiast, 12 Stellar Cabernet Sauvignons for Every Budget

Food & Wine, 9 Stellar Cabernet Sauvignons for Under $20

Wine Spectator, Vintage Charts

Napa Valley Blog

Wine Economist, The Origins of the California Cabernet Bubble

Forbes, The World’s Most Planted Grape Variety

Independent Wine, Guide to Italian Cabernet Sauvignon

Uncork, A Short History of Cabernet Sauvignon

Jancis Robinson, Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine Folly, Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine Australia, Cabernet Sauvignon

Squitchy Lane, Cabernet Sauvignon: The King of Grapes

Wine Follow, 12 Awesome Things About Cabernet Sauvignon

Study Notes On Cabernet Sauvignon:

*Please note these are our literal notes and may be copy and pasted from sources listed above.

BACKGROUND

  • Cabernet comes from the Gironde in south-west France 
  • Earliest mention of the variety appeared under the name Petit Cabernet in an accounting book that discussed established grape varieties (book written in 1760s-1770s
  • Earliest mention of the modern Cabernet Sauvignon was in 1840
  • For awhile, it was possibly confused with Cabernet Franc under old synonyms such as Carbrunet, Carmenet, Vidure or Cabernets
    • Also possible that before the 18th century, it didn’t even exist
  • In 1996, the parentage was discovered being an offspring of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc\
    • Professor Carole Meredity from UC Davis was searching for the origins on Zinfandel
    • This was the first time anyone had identified the parents of a classic wine grape variety
    • Many similarities had already been noticed between the cabernets and Cabernet Sauvignon got its name because its wood and leaves resemble those of Sauvignon Blanc
    • Again – sauvignon comes from the word Sauvage (wild) 
    • The cross was most likely sponteanoues and occurred somewhere in the Gironde before the mid-18th century
  • Most grown grape in the world
  • Not fussy – relatively easy to grow
  • Does well in both warm and cool climates
  • Characteristics: Rich, full-bodied, firm tannins, good concentration, blackberries, cedarwood, cigar box, ageing potential
  • Cabernet is often blended with other varieties to soften it
  • Loves Oak; Lots of tannins and often high alcohol contents
  • Cabernet also has high levels of methoxypyrazine or pyrazine
    • In smaller amounts, this compound is quite positive and adds the savory atoms of black pepper, green peppercorn or sage
    • In larger amounts, pyrazines are seen as negative and make Cab taste vegetal or green
      • Common in young cabs

FRANCE – (calla)

  • Oldest recorded reference to Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the Chateua Mouton
    • Barone de Brane ripped up the white varieties and planted a grape then known as Vidure
    • Vidure comes from the words Vigne Dure or hardy vine in reference to hw tough CS is
  • It is not the most widely planted grape in Bordeaux – Merlot is (because its generally late ripening and needs a warmer, drier environment than most of Bordeaux can provide
    • Therefore it is grown in the Entre Deux Mers region as well…
    • The dominant grape in the blends responsible for all of the most famous wines mane in Bordeaux’s Medoc and Graves regions including all five first growths
    • Medoc: Pauillacq, Saint Estèphes, Margaux, St Juliens
    • Graves: Pessac- Leognan
  • Loire: Wine makers persist with it even though the region is more suited to Cab Franc
  • Provence: blended with Syrah a lot
  • Also found in Languedoc Roussilllon as the fifth most planted variety where it is used mostly for varietal wines but tends to be table wine

UNITED STATES – 

  • Cabernet most often bottled as a single varietal in CA
  • Cabernet Sauvignon arrived in California in the mid-1800s and was planted in the Santa Clara Valley before making its way north to Sonoma later in the century.
  • Despite being a finicky grape, its aromatic qualities were well-received by wine enthusiasts
  • The double whammy of phylloxera in the late 1880s and Prohibition in the 1920s stunted the wine industry for a time, but by 1963, Cabernet Sauvignon became the third most-planted grape in Napa, after Zinfandel and Petite Sirah.
  • The 1970s were a time of great experimentation in Napa Valley, as winemakers pushed the limits of what was possible with Cabernet Sauvignon. Long maceration times were tried, and tannins were expertly softened. The decade also saw a surge in Cabernet plantings, as the industry gained momentum and then Judgment of Paris
  • Cabernet,” at least 75% of the cuvée must contain this variety. Other Bordeaux varieties, such as Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc, make common blending partners
  • Cabernet is Merica’s favorite
  • Cabernet also the most planted grape in Washington too

ITALY –  (also called Uva Francese)

  • Crafty Italian winemakers produce artful blends, where Cabernet’s dark power is balanced by the fresh, red fruit elegance of acidic Italian grapes. Each region has its own school of thought, and its own “tenor” that stands up to Cabernet’s “baritone”. In Toscana, this role is played by Sangiovese. In Veneto, the freshness and acidity is provided by Marzemino, while in Piemonte it’s Barbera.
  • A few appellations produce single-varietal Cabernet wine. In terms of volume, the largest are Sicilia DOC, Veneto DOC and Alto Adige DOC.
  • Blends:
    • Carmignano DOC: 50% Sangiovese, 10-20% Cab Sauv
    • Chianti Classico and Chianti DOCGS: Sangiovese and may have cab
    • Val di Cornia Rosso DOCG: 50% Sangiovese and 60% cab/merlot (in any proportion)
    • Suvereto DOCG: SuperTuscan style – 100% cabernet and merlot blended in any proportion
    • Maremma Toscana DOC
    • Bolgheri DOC
    • Toscana IGT
    • Colli della Toscana Centrale IGT

AUSTRALIA – (Calla)

  • Arrives in 1832 by James Busby
  • However…
  • George Blaxland – potentially planted the first cabernet grapes in Australia between 1816-18 but he called it claret
  • Earliest recorded appearance of Caberent Sauvignon in Australia is in 1820 
  • The MacArthur’s at Camden Park vinyerad enlarged their Camden estate with the first commercial plantings in the area
  • The varieties included Pineau Gris, Frontignac, Gouais, Verdelho, Riesling, Grenache, Mataro and obviously Cab Sav
  • Australia is known for fuller bodied concentrated Cabernet
  • Barossa Valley’s Kalimma Block 42 is believed to be the oldest Caberent Sauvignon vines planted in 1888 (penfolds)
  • Langhorne Creek is also home to the historic Metala vineyard planted in 1891
  • Now, Cabernet is the third most planted variety behind Shiraz and Chardonnay accounting for about 15% of the national crush
  • Is grown in most regions (58 or 65) but…
  • Today the Coonawarra region in South Australia is typified by its warm climate and red clay soils with high iron oxide content
    • Makes exceptional and unique Cabernet Sauvignon
  • A pinky bronze-berried mutation of Cabernet Sauvingon was found in 1977 in the Clegett Wines vineyard in Langhorne Creek in South Australia and registered under the name Malian
    • In 1991 – one of those vines produced white berries now registered as Shalistin and Clegett makes sweet and dry versions of this grape

FAMOUS WINES – 

Cult Wines

  • Screaming Eagle
  • Harlan Estate
  • Opus One

Great Wines

  • Silver Oak
  • Stag’s Leap
  • Ridge
  • Penfolds
  • Caymus
  • Cakebread

Best Bottles Under $25 per Wine Enthusiast AND Food & Wine

  • Kilkanoon Killerman’s Run (Clare Valley, Australia)
  • Freelander District One (CA)
  • Charles & Charles Bolt (Columbia Valley)
  • Davis Finlayson Cab, (Stellenbosch, South Africa)
  • Los Vascos Grande Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile)
  • Louis M. Martini (Sonoma)

BEST VINTAGES – 

  • CA
    • 2017, drink or hold
    • 2016, 2013 great years, 2012 good too
    • No 2011
  • Bordeaux
    • 2017
    • Everything else advised to hold until 2013 (not a great year), 2011 good, 2010 better year but advised to hold
  • Caberent based wine ares tracked and traded like stocks on sites like Liv-ex and Cavex that track wine values over time like stocks
  • Top region for proven wine investments is Bordeaux

Holiday – the thursday before labor day?