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
Region
Popularity
Score
Avg Price
Caymus Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 27th 90 $88
Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 53rd 96 $3,702
Caymus Vineyards Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 90th 93 $194
Shafer Vineyards Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District, USA Stags Leap District 135th 95 $327
Scarecrow Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, USA Rutherford 149th 95 $826
Silver Oak Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, USA Alexander Valley 159th 89 $90
Beaulieu Vineyard BV Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 174th 93 $133
Robert Mondavi Winery Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 224th 90 $146
Concha y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto, Chile Puente Alto 226th 93 $108
Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon, South Australia South Australia 227th 91 $70
Beringer Vineyards Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 231st 93 $160
Chateau Montelena The Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 247th 93 $158
Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon, South Australia South Australia 254th 94 $419
Stag's Leap Wine Cellars 'Artemis' Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 266th 89 $66
Austin Hope Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, USA Paso Robles 267th 92 $52
Heitz Cellar Martha's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 282nd 94 $255
Spottswoode Family Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena, USA St Helena 283rd 95 $222
Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 289th 89 $36
Dunn Vineyards Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, California, USA Howell Mountain 293rd 93 $164
Stags' Leap Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 305th 89 $49
Joseph Phelps Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA Napa Valley 327th 90 $73
Mayacamas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder, USA Mount Veeder 332nd 93 $138
Far Niente Estate Bottled Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville, USA Oakville 334th 92 $158
Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, USA Columbia Valley 339th 95 $209
Jordan Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, USA Alexander Valley 346th 90 $66
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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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