Cabernet Sauvignon

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007 at 12:00 am

Cabernet Sauvignon is a variety of red grape that is mainly used for wine production. It is one of the most widely-planted in the world, along with Chardonnay. It is of the species Vitis vinifera, and is indicated in recent studies that it is the result of a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.

A prime ingredient in most wines from the Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in most of the world’s wine regions. However, this variety of grape requires a long growing season to ripen properly and gives low yields during harvest. Most red wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon are among the world’s greatest.

This varietal has a particularly thick skin, resulting in wines that can be high in tannin, an ingredient that provides both structure and ageability to the wine. And while it is frequently aromatic with and attractive finish, pure Cabernet Sauvignon wine also tends to lack mid-palate richness. To “correct” this, it is often blended with wines with lower tannin but “fleshy” tasting grapes such as Merlot and Shiraz. Cabernet Franc is often used in blends this variety to add aromatics. As a group, Cabernet Sauvignon wines are generally full-flavored, with a stronger flavor than Merlot, and with a smooth lingering finish.

Cabernet Sauvignon has a well-defined aroma. In Old World wines (those created in Europe), especially those made in Bordeaux, this is characterized by a smell of violets, blackcurrant, cedar, and spice. Meanwhile, New World wines (those created in the Americas, Australia, and other countries) of this grape variety also share the aromas of their Old World counterparts, but are more often characterized with scents of chocolate, ripe berries, oak, pepper, and earth. Cabernet Sauvignon wines from the Coonawarra wine region in Australia often bear a strong eucalyptus aroma.

Among wines from warm-climate areas, scents of cassis (blackcurrant) are one of the most characteristic aromas, followed by cherry and other red berries. Cooler-climate examples often reveal greener, herbaceous notes like eucalyptus or green pepper. However, there is a great deal of variation in flavor depending on the region, winemaking technique, seasonal weather, and bottle age. Nonetheless Cabernet Sauvignon wines retain a remarkable ability to be recognized as such.

The grape is strongly associated with the great red wines of Bordeaux (in France), where it is blended with varying quantities of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. In contrast, Cabernet Sauvignon has long been regarded with suspicion among Italian wine makers.

Next to Bordeaux, California is the world’s largest grower of Cabernet Sauvignon, most notably in Napa Valley and some areas of Sonoma County. Like in Bordeaux, it is often blended with merlot and Cabernet Franc to produce world-class wines. More commercial versions may be blended with Ruby Cabernet or other varietals that provide more structure and richness.

Recent studies concluded the beneficial relationship of Cabernet Sauvignon in reducing the risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies showed that extracts from Cabernet Sauvignon protect hypertensive lab rats during ischaemia and reperfusion.