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Cabernet Sauvignon is the big daddy of the red grape world. It is planted in almost every wine producing country around the world and makes a huge amount of the wine that we consume everyday in the UK, proving that it really is a firm favourite in the red wine world.
When Cabernet Sauvignon grows on the vine, it produces very small black berries, with thick, tough skin. These hardy little numbers ripen late and are very resistant to disease, rot and frost, although they do require warm weather and well-drained soils to produce the best wines. A good Cabernet Sauvignon will have deep and rich blackcurrant tones and, if it has been aged in oak, will have hints of cedar, leather or, even, vanilla.
Cabernet Sauvignon has its roots in Bordeaux, where it is the classic grape of the Medoc. It is traditionally known for making a very fine quality French Bordeaux, or Claret, along with its favorite buddies Merlot and Cabernet Franc. But then the Australians got hold of it and started developing it for a fraction of the price. Before long, regions such as Coonawarra Valley became key makers of this grape producing it in its own right and in blends, while regions such as Napa Valley in California, Maipo Valley in Chile and Stellenbosch in South Africa also followed suit. Cabernet Sauvignon is now one of the most widely planted grapes in the world.
Cabernet Sauvignon is an uber-versatile grape. From the simplest, fruity style Aussie plonk to the best first growth Chateau in Bordeaux, there are hundreds of options for winemakers working with Cabernet. It makes the perfect team player, yet works a treat on its own. It also takes well to oak ageing.
Cabernet Sauvignon is rammed full of fruit, tannin and body, so you'd be best to team it with some food to get the most from it. A tender, juicy piece of steak or roasted red meat will come up trumps. If you try serving it with anything lighter, like white meat or fish, the food won't stand up to the to all the tasty flavours of the wine.
You'll rarely come across a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon at much less than 14%. It's a great winter warmer or dinner party wine but if you are looking for something refreshing to sip on a hot summer's day, a big, blockbusting bottle of Cab Sauv probably isn't the best option!