Cabernet Sauvignon is considered the King of all grapes. That is why I decided to start this series "All about the grape" with a Cabernet Sauvignon. The cab as it is referred to was first cultivated in Bordeaux, France where they produce some of the most expensive wines in the world. Because it is so versatile cabernet is now grown all over the world. It is the most widely planted red grape and parallels sales to Merlot. California is second to France for producing most of the worlds wine. They came to fame in a world tasting competition held in 1970 and they won.
Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are grown in the region of Bordeaux, France; Tuscany, Italy; Santa Cruz Mountains, Napa Valley, Sonoma Country in California; Australia; and Stellenbosch South Africa. Cabernet Sauvignon started its history with Italy in the Piedmont region. The Italian wines first produced in 1820 were regarded suspiciously, like the new villager, a foreign influence that drew attention away from the native grapes. The vines reap well in gravel soil. The cooler climates produce flavors of green bell pepper and asparagus. The flavors of the medium climates are mint, black pepper and eucalyptus. And my favorite is the warm California climate that yields jam berry flavors. The grape is also known by other names, such as Bouchet, Bouche, Petit-Bouchet, Petit-Cabernet, Petit-Vidure, Vidure, and Sauvignon Rouge.
The wild grape began cultivation in the 17th century. The Cabernet Sauvignon grape has thick skin and hardy vines, it is resistant to rot and repels insects making it a popular choice for the grape farmer. The grape is a relatively new, an unforeseen blend of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon blanc during the 17th century in southwestern France.
Believe it or not the cabernet sauvignon is related to a white grape sauvignon blanc. The name sauvignon, means savage or wild in French. The cabernet sauvignon is traditionally a bold, dense wine that is full of tannins and that is what makes it very dry and bitter. In order for the tannins to mellow they need to age and aging wine in oak barrels also helps to smooth the wine out. The flavors of the cabernet sauvignon can vary depending on where the grape is grown depending on climate, but there are some consistent flavors that you can usually distinguish. One of the flavors is that of a green bell pepper, yes, you heard me correctly. A fresh cut green bell pepper produces a chemical called methoxy-pyrazine and you'll find this in the northern grown grapes where they don't ripen as well. If a wine comes from a warmer part of the world like California that green bell pepper fades and you will start to taste the dark fruit flavors of currants, plums and even black raspberries.
A great partner to this big bold flavored wine that is full of tannins and oak is protein. Steaks on the grill for dinner tonight? Open a bottle of cab!
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