Cabernet Sauvignon is often heralded as the King of Grapes, a cloak that this classic variety wears confidently.
Thick skinned, full bodied and tannic, this black grape’s signature structure and flavours are recognizable across geographic and geological boundaries.
Blackcurrant, black cherry and blackberry are hallmark fruits, with eucalyptus, mint and black olive notes emerging in warmer climes and cedar, tobacco leaf and green pepper edging through in cooler regions. Leather, cigar and graphite gain intensity with maturity. As you might have noticed by its name, this regal grape is the heir of some major players in the viti world: cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc.
Firmly at home in Bordeaux, especially the gravel-dominant Left Bank, you’ll usually see cab sauv blended with merlot (adds plumpness and fruit) and cabernet franc (adds peppered perfume finesse), though it welcomes blending with other black grapes in France and elsewhere. Cabernet sauvignon plays very well with shiraz in Australia, and sangiovese in Tuscany, for example.
But it’s really all about the bones. When evaluating reds in a blind tasting, I’m seeking structure if cab is on the table. Young cabernet sauvignon can be like a brand new dining chair: a bit too tightly strung and austere, uncomfortable for more than a short period of time - or worse - more than one glass. When worn in with a little time however, the diner is rewarded. Edges soften, wood relaxes and stiff leather transitions into saddle, allowing you to sink right in. Your dining chair has become a throne – certainly one fit for a king.
California has certainly become synonomous with premium cabernet sauvignon. Here are the top 10 California cabernet sauvignons we've tasted over this past year at GOW. Watch for our top cabernet blends to follow later this fall.