Wine Grape Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the major red wine grape varieties of Bordeaux. Now grown in most wine producing regions globally, Cabernet Sauvignon made its way into Australian vineyards in the mid 1800s.

The bunches are small and conical with small, bluish, thick-skinned berries. The ratio of skin to juice is high in these smaller berries, delivering plenty of colour when extraction occurs during winemaking. The resultant wines can be quite tannic and highly coloured.

Cabernet Sauvignon is not particularly suited to cooler climates, though the grassy and vegetal characteristics derived from cool to cold climate vineyards can be lessened by increasing the level of sunlight within the canopy through improved trellising.

The ripening Cabernet Sauvignon grape changes from herbaceous to perfumed, dusty minty then to liquorice, blackcurrant and black olive characters.

Medium to full bodied Cabernets exhibiting mint, berry and blackcurrant characters are generally grown in warmer climates, and tend to be richly coloured and flavoured with naturally balanced acidity and finely structured tannins. In contrast, grapes from hot climates tend to have less intensity of flavour though exhibiting attractive berry characters.

Aromas (by nose) and flavours (by mouth)

Primary fruit characters include – capsicum, tomato leaf, herbaceous, cinnamon, menthol, eucalyptus, leafy, minty, violet, perfumed, dusty, berry, plum, stewed rhubarb, cooked beetroot, blackcurrant (cassis), black olive, prune, liquorice and inky.

Developed fruit characters include – earthy, dusty, cigar-box, cedar, chocolate, tobacco, coffee and mocha.

Characters derived from winemaking include - Barrel fermentation/barrel storage – spice, coconut, smoky, chocolate, vanilla, pencil shavings, sawdust, toast, cedar, black olives, bacon, dusty, nuts, cashew, burnt and toffee.

The Influence of Winemaking

Balancing the power of the fruit with the extraction of tannins and colour is the winemaker’s art. Some wines are barrel fermented while others are left on skins for an extended period, with most winemakers preferring to ferment/store their Cabernet Sauvignon in French oak barrels. Frequently blended with other varieties, the flavours and structures of Cabernet Sauvignon depend on the proportion of different varieties used and their vineyard location. To allow the tannins to mature and soften, many Cabernet Sauvignon wines are aged resulting in a more pleasurable palate and full flavours that develop with time.

Learn more about the varieties of grapes that make great wine visit Wyndham Estate

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