One of the principle grape varieties of Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon is cultivated all over the world. Wines made from this variety have immense ageing potential such as the famous Pauillacs from Mouton Rothschild and Latour. Cabernet Sauvignon’s origins have long been disputed but a recent study from the University of Davis in California found it to be a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.
From the Médoc to the Margaret River, Cabernet Sauvignon has been known under many different guises, from Marcoupet and Carbonet to Bidure. From the 18th century onwards it was often called “Vidure” and this is the name it goes by in Montesquieu’s ‘Mémoire sur la Culture de la Vigne’ (1783). It was at this time that the term Cabernet Sauvignon also began to appear. This grape variety produces tannic and aromatic wines.
Cabernet Sauvignon is prolific in the Médoc (Pauillac in particular) and Graves although it is gaining ground on the right bank too, although Merlot and Cabernet Franc remain the dominant varieties here. Bordeaux accounts for 60% of all Cabernet Sauvignon production in France. Elsewhere, this variety is found in the South West (Bergerac and Buzet), the Loire Valley, the Languedoc Roussillon and Provence. Cabernet Sauvignon is also grown in Tuscany, where it is blended with Sangiovese to make Super Tuscans and in California, Australia, South Africa and South America.
Wines produced from this variety are recognisable for their aromas of pepper as well as for their vegetal and menthol notes. Cabernet Sauvignon is slow to ripen and requires much heat and sunshine to flourish. Soil type is important too an in Bordeaux it likes gravel rich soil. Médoc and Pessac-Léognan on the estuary of the left bank are two appellations where Cabernet thrives. It can be used for single varietal wines or in blends, most notably with Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Tempranillo or Sangiovese. Generally, it does well to be aged for a long time in oak barrels, as this helps soften the tannins.