Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon
Grape (Vitis)
Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Hedge Vineyards.jpg
Cabernet Sauvignon grapes
Color of berry skinBlack
Also calledBouchet, Bouche, Petit-Bouchet, Petit-Cabernet, Petit-Vidure, Vidure, Sauvignon Rouge
Notable regionsBordeaux, Tuscany, Santa Cruz Mountains, Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Australia, Stellenbosch South Africa
Notable winesClassified Bordeaux estates, Californian cult wines
Ideal soilGravel
HazardsUnderripeness, powdery mildew, eutypella scoparia, excoriose
Wine characteristics
GeneralDense, dark, tannic
Cool climateVegetal, bell pepper, asparagus
Medium climateMint, black pepper, eucalyptus
Hot climateJam

Cabernet Sauvignon (French: [kabɛʁnɛ soviˈɲɔ̃]) is one of the world's most widely recognized red wine grape varieties. It is grown in nearly every major wine producing country among a diverse spectrum of climates from Canada's Okanagan Valley to Lebanon's Beqaa Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon became internationally recognized through its prominence in Bordeaux wines where it is often blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. From France, the grape spread across Europe and to the New World where it found new homes in places like California's Santa Cruz Mountains, Napa Valley, New Zealand's Hawkes Bay, Australia's Margaret River and Coonawarra regions, and Chile's Maipo Valley and Colchagua. For most of the 20th century, it was the world's most widely planted premium red wine grape until it was surpassed by Merlot in the 1990s.[1]However, by 2015, Cabernet Sauvignon had once again become the most widely planted wine grape, with a total of 341000ha under vine worldwide.[2]

Despite its prominence in the industry, the grape is a relatively new variety, the product of a chance crossing between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon blanc during the 17th century in southwestern France. Its popularity is often attributed to its ease of cultivation—the grapes have thick skins and the vines are hardy and naturally low yielding, budding late to avoid frost and resistant to viticultural hazards such as rot and insects—and to its consistent presentation of structure and flavours which express the typical character ("typicity") of the variety. Familiarity and ease of pronunciation[clarification needed] have helped to sell Cabernet Sauvignon wines to consumers, even when from unfamiliar wine regions. Its widespread popularity has also contributed to criticism of the grape as a "colonizer" that takes over wine regions at the expense of native grape varieties.[3]

The classic profile of Cabernet Sauvignon tends to be full-bodied wines with high tannins and noticeable acidity that contributes to the wine's aging potential. In cooler climates, Cabernet Sauvignon tends to produce wines with blackcurrant notes that can be accompanied by green bell pepper notes, mint and cedar which will all become more pronounced as the wine ages. In more moderate climates the blackcurrant notes are often seen with black cherry and black olive notes while in very hot climates the currant flavors can veer towards the over-ripe and "jammy" side. In parts of Australia, particularly the Coonawarra wine region of South Australia, Cabernet Sauvignon wines tend to have a characteristic eucalyptus or menthol notes.[4]

History and origins

Cabernet Franc

For many years, the origin of Cabernet Sauvignon was not clearly understood and many myths and conjectures surrounded it. The word "Sauvignon" is believed to be derived from the French sauvage meaning "wild" and to refer to the grape being a wild Vitis vinifera vine native to France. Until recently the grape was rumored to have ancient origins, perhaps even being the Biturica grape used to make ancient Roman wine and referenced by Pliny the Elder. This belief was widely held in the 18th century, when the grape was also known as Petite Vidure or Bidure, apparently a corruption of Biturica. There was also belief that Vidure was a reference to the hard wood (French vigne dure) of the vine, with a possible relationship to Carménère which was once known as Grand Vidure.[3] Another theory was that the grapevine originated in the Rioja region of Spain.[5]

While the period when the name Cabernet Sauvignon became more prevalent over Petite Vidure is not certain, records indicate that the grape was a popular Bordeaux planting in the 18th century Médoc region. The first estates known to have actively grown the variety (and the likely source of Cabernet vines for other estates) were Château Mouton and Château d'Armailhac in Pauillac.[3]

The grape's true origins were discovered in 1996 with the use of DNA typing at the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology, by a team led by Dr. Carole Meredith. The DNA evidence determined that Cabernet Sauvignon was the offspring of Cabernet franc and Sauvignon blanc and was most likely a chance crossing that occurred in the 17th century. Prior to this discovery, this origin had been suspected from the similarity of the grapes' names and the fact that Cabernet Sauvignon shares similar aromas with both grapes—such as the blackcurrant and pencil box aromas of Cabernet franc and the grassiness of Sauvignon blanc.[3] In 2016 scientists at the UC Davis announced they had sequenced a draft of the whole genome of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, the first genome of a commercial wine-producing grape to be sequenced.[6]

Sauvignon blanc

Offspring and White Cabernet

While not as prolific in mutating as Pinot noir, nor as widely used in production of offspring, Cabernet Sauvignon has been linked to other grape varieties. In 1961, a cross of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache produced the French wine grape Marselan.[7] Cygne blanc is a white-berried seedling of Cabernet Sauvignon that was discovered in 1989 growing in a garden in Swan Valley, Western Australia. Cabernet blanc is a crossing of Cabernet Sauvignon and an unknown hybrid grape variety that was discovered in Switzerland in the late 20th century.[8]

In 1977 a vine producing 'bronze' grapes was found in the vineyards of Cleggett Wines in Australia. They propagated this mutant, registered it under the name of Malian, and sold pale red wines under that name. In 1991 one of the Bronze Cabernet vines started producing white grapes. Cleggett registered this "White Cabernet" under the name of Shalistin.[9] Compared to its Cabernet parent, Malian appears to lack anthocyanins in the subepidermal cells but retains them in the epidermis, whereas Shalistin has no anthocyanins in either layer. The team that went on to discover the VvMYBA1 and VvMYBA2 genes that control grape color have suggested that a gene involved in anthocyanin production has been deleted in the subepidermis of Malian, and then subepidermal cells invaded the epidermis to produce Shalistin.[10]

During a series of trials between 1924 and 1930, the pollen of Cabernet Sauvignon was used to fertilize Glera vines (the white wine grape used to make the sparkling wine Prosecco) to create the red Italian wine grape Incrocio Manzoni 2.15.[11]

In 1983, Cabernet Sauvignon was crossed with the white German wine grape Bronner to create the white wine grape Souvignier gris.[12]

Other Languages