Cabernet Sauvignon | Vincabulary

VINcabulary : Cabernet Sauvignon

{cab-er-NAY  so-vin-YOHn}

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. Black is in. 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. Cab Sauv 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 Cab Sauv 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.



Cabernet Sauvignon, Menzies Vineyard, The Cigar 2009
Coonawarra, South Australia, Australia
$25-28  14.5%
Layers of savoury textured goodness to unwrap over time – iron, herbed bramble, tobacco, cassis, red cherry, fragrant red floral notes – neatly bound with fine grained tannins and elegant freshness.



Bodega Catena Zapata
Alamos Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Mendoza, Argentina
$15-18  13.5%
Sweet sausage and sun ripened cassis lead into deep dark perfumed black fruit – ripe, juicy and supple. Anise and dark cocoa with a cloud of light smoke on the finish. Ready to drink, suitable for all.



Paul Hobbs Cross Barn
Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Napa Valley, California, USA
$56-60  14.2%
Ripe and expansive cassis, black cherry and baked blackberries lushly cover this well structured Napa cab. A juicy, plumy acidity and fragrant, confected anise note on the lengthy finish add interest.



Chateau Roquetaillade
La Grange 2009
AC Graves, Bordeaux, France
$26-30   13%
Old school and owns it. Gravel and smoked barrel on first whiff, then stony mineral, fresh red cherry, tobacco leaf and white pepper. Structured tannins are firm enough to remind you this is Bordeaux, mais oui, though amiable enough to easily finish the bottle (perfect 13% alcohol).



Orofino Vineyards
Passion Pit Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Similkameen Valley, BC
*$29-33  14.3%
Hits of dusty cassis, espresso and sweet fig newtons lead to a juicy and full palate of wild strawberry, black raspberry, dark wildflowers and savoury figs – all layered overtop a toasty woodiness. Great length.



O. Fournier
Urban Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Maule, Central Valley, Chile
*$15-18  14%
Stainless ferment and higher altitude vineyards help keep this dusky Cab fresh. 100+ year old vineyards give it intensity: menthol, cassis, medicinal cherry and minty thistle coat sticky tannins, and finish with smoke singed blackberry.


DRINKing Guide: How to use our purchasing information.
*Asterisks denote wines that are only available at the winery or select private liquor stores. All other wines are available through BC Liquor Stores.


Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

Comments are closed.