Everything you need to know about Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the two grape varieties that are used with Merlot in the production of great Bordeaux wines and it is also what makes the reputation of Bordeaux wines . It is very cultivated throughout the world and it produces structured wines, full- bodied wines and tannic wines that you can keep for several years. For this file, we invite you to discover in depth this very well-known grape variety in the production of red wines.

Cabernet Sauvignon: a very special grape variety

When tasting, we tend to confuse Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot. It takes time to appreciate it. Cabernet Sauvignon is a grape variety that stands out for its freshness , its acidity and the quality of the tannins it will bring to the wine. You can also feel a minty touch when tasting , possibly going to the flavors of red fruits.

Whether used as the main grape variety or as a secondary grape variety, Cabernet Sauvignon will not leave you indifferent when tasting a bottle of wine. When used as the main grape variety, it gives wines with a tannic structure and powerful flavors.

On the palate, it leaves aromas of very young black berries such as ripe blackcurrant, vegetal tastes, flavors of musk and leather as it evolves.

For vintages and crus , Cabernet Sauvignon offers more complex aromas including cedar and spice. When this variety lacks maturity or when there is an excess yield, you can smell a smell of green pepper.

Cabernet Sauvignon: a French grape variety

Although it is one of the most famous grape varieties, it was only discovered very late. It was only in the 17th century that French winegrowers created it by crossing Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc . This crossing led them to a unique result: they had a very particular grape variety with special flavors and thick and hard skins . Cabernet Sauvignon is in fifth position in the list of French grape varieties and is highly appreciated by great wine connoisseurs .

This variety is very popular in Bordeaux vineyards, especially when it accompanies Merlot. At Oé, we have decided to work with committed winegrowers, and in particular Franck and his vineyard in Pujols. We produce hand in hand with him Le Bordeaux , which perfectly reflects this sublime Bordeaux terroir. The sweetness of Merlot is enhanced by the character of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon .

The team suggests uncorking your bottle with new potatoes, green beans and fried rice.

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Production areas in France

The French are major producers of Cabernet Sauvignon : there were more than 55,000 hectares of this grape variety in 2010. French production represents nearly 20% of world production and in France, Cabernet Sauvignon represents nearly 7% of wine production . These famous Cabernet Sauvignon vines are found in the Médoc region where it is used with Merlot to make wine. This variety is also grown in the Graves , on the right bank of Bordeaux , in Buzet, in the greater South West of France, in the Loire Valley and in Languedoc-Roussillon .

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Cultivation of Cabernet Sauvignon abroad

We can say that Cabernet Sauvignon is the most planted grape variety in the world and it is found in other countries outside of France. The Italians and the Chinese cultivate it for the production of their wines. In the United States, particularly in California, there are also a few vines of Cabernet Sauvignon. The latter gives more powerful and robust drinks .

This variety is also grown in Spain, Greece, the United Kingdom, Germany, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. It should all the same be underlined that even if Cabernet Sauvignon is a grape variety that adapts to various climates, its taste in other countries is not the same as in France because it does not evolve on the same terroirs and in the same appellations .

A variety with good resistance to diseases and pests

Cabernet Sauvignon has a late bud development, which gives it optimal resistance to spring frosts. Its firm flesh offers it additional protection when rainfall is high. It is the thick skin of the grape that makes it resistant to gray rot . And even if this variety seems very resistant, the winegrowers must provide it with specific treatment against wood diseases such as Eutypiosis , Esca and Oidium , which it does not tolerate.

Beyond diseases, organic winegrowers work the land differently to help the vines protect themselves from pests and bad weather . They use bio-indicator plants to direct them to the needs of their land and thus choose the crops to grow between the rows of vines. They take care of the fauna and flora that surrounds them, cherish the biodiversity which has positive virtues on the development of the vines: earthworms and green manures aerate the soil, pheromones repel processionary caterpillars, hedges and walls of stones welcome all kinds of insects and small animals useful for the life of the vine, etc. Our goal as well as that of the winegrowers: to offer you wines that are the most respectful of nature , sometimes without added sulfur and above all certified zero pesticides (we have them tested by the independent laboratory Capinov on 425 molecules)

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Recognizing a Cabernet Sauvignon plant in a vineyard

You are probably thinking that all vines are alike and you will recognize that of Cabernet Sauvignon by its young leaves . The latter have a reddish touch and are more bronzed than the other leaves of the vines. Its adult leaves do not have a very defined geometric shape and they have a more rounded orbicular shape. On these, there are between 7 and 9 lobes which have medium to large teeth. The clusters and berries of this variety are smaller. We can also recognize a grape variety once in the mouth for connoisseurs: between the texture, the thickness of the skin and the taste of the grape.

The blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and other grape varieties

There is not a bottle of French wine made exclusively from Cabernet Sauvignon. Its rigor and its tannins need a touch of fat and smoothness for a perfect balance. It is for this reason that it is vinified with Merlot . The composition between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot can be 50 – 50 but to keep its tannic side, some choose to bring only 5 to 10% Merlot. Some foreign wine producers still take the risk of making 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines because the climate and the environment where this grape variety is grown allows them to mature more successfully, which gives sweeter and rounder Cabernet Sauvignons. Roundness and tannins are typical characteristics of Cabernet Sauvignon.

At Oé, we work on the blends with some of our winegrowers to offer you the most consensual and typical wine of its appellation.

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A bottle of cabernet sauvignon at the table

These wines are one of the most appreciated by the French, especially when they have matured for a few years. It is especially recommended to accompany your baby potatoes, green beans and your red meat dish for example or why not the famous cannelés. You will find a perfect balance between the wine composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and a rib of beef or a piece of game. Finding the perfect food and wine pairing is not difficult. You can also serve it at the table with a dish with a structure or a dish of lobster cooked in red wine. You can also serve this type of wine with a dessert, but for this, choose those with chocolate notes.

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To learn more about other grape varieties, we offer you an article on the Pinot Noir grape variety