Taking a Cab Around The World
By Jimmy Quaile, Certified Sommelier
It is safe to say that Cabernet Sauvignon is widely known as the reigning king of all grapes - the gateway for most wine lovers - the red wine equivalent of the little black dress. The grape varietal is resistant to the elements, age-worthy, and is hearty enough to grow anywhere on the globe. The blue-black berry is deceivingly small in size and has a high skin-to-juice ratio which creates high proportions of phenols and tannins. â€œPhenolsâ€ are chemical compounds that affect taste and color, while â€œTanninsâ€ come from the skins, seeds and stems give the textural element that makes wine taste (and feel!) dry. Together they soften and develop over time leading to an array of flavors. So what are the different styles of Cabernet Sauvignon? The three main factors determining the different styles are: the climate in which it is grown, the type of oak used, and the time spent aging in barrel.
- Cooler climates produce an herbaceous style with vegetal notes, especially green bell pepper. In warmer climates, cassis (black currant) and eucalyptus become evident.
- American oak imparts strong flavors of vanilla and coconut, whereas European oak (most frequently French) offers textural subtlety with spicy notes.
- Time in the barrel (and the bottle) allows the slow ingress of oxygen, which makes wine taste smoother and less astringent.
- Washington State
Three Fun Facts The word â€œSauvignonâ€ is believed to derive from the French sauvage which meansÂ â€œwildâ€. Cabernet Sauvignon was the first grape to have its entire genome sequenced. Funding for the 2016 UC Davis genome project was provided by J. Lohr Vineyards. The grape has its own day! International Cabernet Sauvignon Day is August 30th.