Before Cabernet Sauvignon underwent DNA profiling revealing it to be the lovechild of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, up until the 17th Century the variety was somewhat of a chameleon. You may have enjoyed a glass of Claret or Bordeaux, talked about Petite Vidure or Bidure, or even looked across a field of Uva Francese while holidaying in Italy. Yes, they are all referring to the one and only, Cab Sauv.
Currently the world’s most widely planted premium variety, Cabernet Sauvignon has recently earned itself yet another name – the Colonizer – for often being favoured over native regional varieties. But this thick skinned, low yielding, and late ripening beauty isn’t deterred by name calling, regardless of what’s put on the label (or said behind its back).
The thing is, apart from being wonderfully drinkable, Cabernet Sauvignon is happy to set its roots down just about anywhere. From its birthplace in Bordeaux, France, Cabernet Sauvignon has established itself in almost every single winemaking nation, including every major wine region in Australia. You can literally travel the world and enjoy locally grown and crafted Cabernet Sauvignon in Italy, Canada, America, Chile, Brazil, Bulgaria, Romania, Lebanon, China, and the list goes on and on.
In China, some wineries have even planted Cabernet Sauvignon, along with local varieties such as Cabernet Gernischt, in the Gobi Desert. Utilising the sandy soils, hot dry summers and water from the nearby Yellow River, winemakers have harnessed this unlikely desert location to meet market demands and witness Cabernet Sauvignon’s ability to thrive. But how do the vines withstand the -20˚C winter temperatures? By burying them by hand in the sand, of course. Yes, Cabernet Sauvignon vines are that hardy!
While such initiatives show winemaker’s extreme dedication to the variety it also reinforces how sought after Cabernet Sauvignon is. To prove the point, Cabernet Sauvignon also holds the record for the most expensive wine ever sold. In 2017 the LA Times reported celebrity winemaker, Jesse Katz (who also holds the record for the youngest head winemaker in America) had one of his wines sold at a charity auction for $350,000 USD. That’s $467 per millilitre! Also in California, Cabernet Sauvignon cult wines fetch price tags that run into the thousands.
But whether you’re paying top dollar or simply enjoying a rich and delicious favourite, one of the most endearing characters of Cabernet Sauvignon is its consistent profile, regardless of where it is from or who skilfully produced it. A classic Cabernet Sauvignon is full-bodied, relatively high in tannins, shows a good amount of acidity and features solid ageing potential depending on the winemaker’s intentions.
Here in Gundagai our ironstone soil helps the fruit develop intense flavour and colour, while our cool alpine-influenced nights promote varietal complexity, and the warm days allow ripe fruit flavours such as blackcurrant, plum and dark cherry to develop, along with classic characters such as eucalyptus and spearmint.
Oh and when you enjoy your next glass of Cabernet Sauvignon you’d better mark August 30 in your calendar – International Cabernet Day is on its way!