Grape Varieties C-D Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon Wine

Cabernet Sauvignon is probably the most famous red wine grape variety on Earth. It is rivaled in this regard only by its Bordeaux stablemate Merlot, and its opposite number in Burgundy, Pinot Noir. From its origins in Bordeaux, Cabernet has successfully spread to almost every winegrowing country in the world. It is now the key grape variety in many first-rate New World wine regions, most notably Napa Valley, Coonawarra and Maipo Valley. Wherever they come from, Cabernet Sauvignon wines always seem to demonstrate a handful of common character traits: deep color, good tannin structure, moderate acidity and aromas of blackcurrant, tomato leaf, dark spices and cedarwood.

Used as frequently in blends as in varietal wines, Cabernet Sauvignon has a large number of common blending partners. Apart from the obvious Merlot and Cabernet Franc, the most prevalent of these are Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenere (the ingredients of a classic Bordeaux Blend), Shiraz (in Australia's favorite blend) and in Spain and South America, a Cabernet – Tempranillo blend is now commonplace. Even the bold Tannat-based wines of Madiran are now generally softened with Cabernet Sauvignon.

Cabernet Sauvignon Grapes
? Jonathan Reeve

DNA profiling carried out in California in 1997 confirmed that Cabernet Sauvignon is the product of a natural genetic crossing between key Bordeaux grape varieties Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Most wine authorities agree that this crossing happened only within the past few centuries, making the variety's global fame and dominance all the more impressive. (© Wine-Searcher)

There are two key reasons for Cabernet Sauvignon's rise to dominance. The most simple and primordial of these is that its vines are highly adaptable to different soil types and climates; it is grown at latitudes as disparate as 50°N (Okanagan in Canada) and 20°S (northern Argentina), and in soils as different as the Pessac-Leognan gravels and the iron-rich terra rossa of Coonawarra. Secondary to this, but just as important, is that despite the diversity of terroirs in which the vine is grown, Cabernet Sauvignon wines retain an inimitable "Cab" character, nuanced with hints of provenance in the best-made examples. There is just a single reason, however, for the durability of the variety's fame and that is simple economics; the familiarity and marketability of the Cabernet Sauvignon name has an irresistible lure to wine companies looking for a reliable return on their investment.

A vigorous variety (another characteristic in its favor), Cabernet Sauvignon produces a dense leaf canopy and relatively high grape yields, giving wine producers a fairly open choice between quantity and quality. Careful vineyard management is essential, however, to coax the best out of the fruit.

As a late-flowering and late-ripening variety, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes mature slowly. This can also work for or against wine quality; in a cold season or climate there is a risk of the grapes failing to ripen fully, while in most other conditions the steady rate of progress offers producers a wider choice of harvest dates.

Few would argue that the finest examples of Cabernet Sauvignon wine are found in Bordeaux and California, a standpoint supported by the 1976 Judgment of Paris. The past two decades have seen a raft of quality Cabernets emerging from New World regions such as Maipo in Chile and Coonawarra in Australia. These are gaining popularity with an increasingly broad consumer base as the world's most prestigious Cabernet Sauvignon wines become prohibitively expensive. The variety has now made its way even into such established and traditional Italian names as Chianti and Carmignano (albeit restricted to 15 percent of the permitted blend), evidence that even the oldest and most traditional wine institutions now recognize the value of this most famous of grapes.

Synonyms include: Bidure, Bouche, Bordo, Bouchet, Burdeos Tinto, Lafite, Vidure.

Food matches for Cabernet Sauvignon include:

  • Fillet steak with foie gras and truffles
  • Beef wellington with honey roasted carrots
  • Korean-style beef stir fried in garlic, soy and sesame
Production by region Expand/collapse

Most Popular Cabernet Sauvignon Wine

Based on search frequency, updated monthly
Wine Name
Avg Price
Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 30th 96 $3,981
Caymus Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 37th 91 $87
Scarecrow Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, USA Rutherford 86th 95 $874
Promontory, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 103rd 96 $790
Caymus Vineyards Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 105th 93 $192
Concha y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto, Chile Puente Alto 157th 93 $111
Shafer Vineyards Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District, USA Stags Leap District 158th 95 $336
Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon, South Australia South Australia 164th 91 $73
Beaulieu Vineyard BV Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 175th 93 $134
Heitz Cellar Martha's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 222nd 93 $266
Robert Mondavi Winery Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 238th 91 $151
Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon, South Australia South Australia 243rd 94 $437
Silver Oak Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, USA Alexander Valley 248th 89 $90
Beringer Vineyards Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 250th 93 $161
Mayacamas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder, USA Mount Veeder 264th 93 $151
Spottswoode Family Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena, USA St Helena 267th 95 $226
Chateau Montelena The Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 273rd 92 $158
Jordan Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, USA Alexander Valley 287th 90 $66
Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, USA Columbia Valley 298th 95 $209
Dunn Vineyards Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, California, USA Howell Mountain 302nd 94 $166
Stag's Leap Wine Cellars 'Artemis' Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 308th 89 $66
Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 320th 89 $36
Austin Hope Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, USA Paso Robles 323rd 91 $53
Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 343rd 95 $638
Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Estate 'Cask 23' Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 385th 94 $289
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To see how Wine-Searcher uses average pricing and professional wine critic scores on this page, please see Average Wine Prices and Wine Scores. To find out about popularity, please see Wine Ranks.
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