With its origins in seventeenth century southwestern France, the variety first rose to prominence for its role in the wines of Bordeaux, where it is most frequently blended with Merlot and/or Cabernet Franc. Today, this region still accounts for 60% of all the Cabernet Sauvignon grown in France, however the grape itself has since spread from its homeland and populated almost all of the world’s wine-producing territories, with notable successes in California’s Napa Valley, Coonawarra, South Australia and most recently in the Maipo Valley region of Chile. Cabernet is now also a permitted variety in the prestigious blends of Chianti and Carmignano.
The rate of its growth and subsequent global dominance in a relatively short time, is testament to the variety’s adaptable nature and its ability to perform in a wide range of climatic conditions and on various soils. Undoubtedly, it’s versatility with regard to terroir is a chief cause of its continued success. However, another reason for its holding claim to the title ‘world’s most famous red wine grape’ is in the fact that regardless of the earth, the age of the vines, the prevailing weather, aspect and elevation, the wines produced are distinctively ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’ with a number of common characteristics demonstrated in all examples, such as full body, deep colour, harmonious structure, blackcurrant aromas and noticeable acidity. An affinity with oak and the potential to mature for many years in the bottle are other traits synonymous with this variety.
Whilst evidently Cabernet Sauvignon can flourish in a range of climates, warmer temperatures and abundant sunshine enhance its potential as a varietal. Its finest examples are those of its Bordeaux homeland and the rich, oak-aged varietals of Northern California.