Looking back, I’m amazed at how rarely I’ve blogged about the world’s most widely planted wine grape: Cabernet Sauvignon. Yes, I’ve mentioned it in passing when talking about other wines, but as for focussing on this most popular of red varieties – nothing! Time to put that right as, at its best, it really is a grape not to be ignored.
‘Home’ for Cabernet Sauvignon is France’s most prestigious wine region, Bordeaux, where it has been grown for more than 200 years but it wasn’t until the latter part of the 20th century that growers beyond that region started to realise the potential of the grape. As a result, world-wide plantings more than doubled between 1990 and 2010 and the variety is now found in virtually every major wine producing country, even in England where, historically, the climate hasn’t been warm enough to ripen this sun-loving variety.
The words ‘sun-loving’ mean thoughts turning to Australia, although it was actually quite a late starter there with the first Cabernet Sauvignon vines only imported in the 1960s and the first commercial bottling released in 1967. But from that quiet beginning the variety has thrived, with especially good examples found in Coonawarra in South Australia and Margaret River in Western Australia (WA).
And it was a bottle from WA that we opened recently. The Wine Society’s Exhibition Cabernet Sauvignon (£16.50) is made for the Society by one of WA’s oldest and most successful producers, Vasse Felix and is full of all those aromas and flavours Cabernet Sauvignon drinkers are familiar with and love: blackcurrant and cassis fruit, some herbiness and hints of black cherry and mint. The 2019 vintage on the Wine Society’s current list is drinking well now and should continue at its peak for a couple of years yet but, as with most wines from this grape, it benefits from opening an hour or so in advance of drinking and teaming with red meat – grilled lamb would be perfect – or hard cheese.
Cabernet Sauvignon is certainly a grape not to be ignored – whether I blog about it or not!