Australian Cabernet Sauvignon wine regional and flavour profile
Cabernet Sauvignon tastes and aromas
Flavours and aromas of blackberries, plums, black currants, capsicum, mint, eucalyptus, red currant and cassis
Cabernet Sauvignon mouthfeel
Full bodied, high tannin, dry finish
Cellaring potential of Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most popular wines to age due to its ability to significantly improve in taste after extended ageing. Its harsh tannins soften, allowing the more subtle flavours to develop and intensify. Aged in oak, Cabernet Sauvignon can take on flavours of vanilla, cedar, chocolate, and coffee, cigar-box, earth. Many high quality wine producers will grow and pick grapes specifically to create wines that will develop best over the course of decades.
Cabernet Sauvignon is also able to be drunk young, and can have flavours and aromas of blackcurrant (or cassis), capsicum, vine leaf and dust.
Facts about Cabernet Sauvignon
- Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. It originated by accident in the 17th Century in the Bordeaux region of South West France.
- The area of Bordeaux was home to the first significant wave of plantings in the mid to late 18th century. In 1832, James Busby brought the first cuttings to Australian.
- In Australia our best Australian Cabernet Sauvignon examples generally come from Coonawarra, Margaret River and Yarra Valley – regions with climates similar to Bordeaux.
- Cabernet Sauvignon is a unique variety with more than 30 chemical esters (aroma compounds) in its skins – more than double the number for any other grape variety. Combined with a high pip-to-pulp ratio, this makes it a formidable ageing variety.
- In Bordeaux, winemakers have traditionally blended a proportion of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot to balance against the later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon. This creates a softer wine – adding mid-palate, mouth filling qualities that are often lacking in a young Cabernet. In Australia, Cabernet Sauvignon is most often blended with Merlot.
Australian regions that produce Cabernet Sauvignon
Australia’s best Cabernets are made in the Coonawarra region of South Australia. Its red ‘Terra Rossa’ soils over limestone, free draining and cool climate create well balanced, aromatic and unique wines with good cellaring potential.
The warm climate in the Barossa Valley tends to produce richer dark and fleshy wines with typical chocolate hints and blackberry.
In Central Victoria there is often a mint/eucalyptus hint to Cabernet Sauvignon, a fair step away from its typical cassis and blackcurrant characteristics.
The Margaret Rivers warm climate provides slight gravelly hints with red berry fruit, and usually great length and cellaring ability.
Cabernet Sauvignon wine and food pairing
Cabernet Sauvignon is a very bold and assertive wine that has potential to overwhelm light and delicate dishes. The wine’s high tannin content as well as the oak influences and high alcohol levels play important roles in influencing how well the wine matches with different foods. When Cabernet Sauvignon is young, all those elements are at their peak, but as the wine ages it mellows; possibilities for different Food Pairings to open up.
In most circumstances, matching the weight (alcohol level and body) of the wine to the heaviness of the food is an important consideration. Cabernet Sauvignons with high alcohol levels do not pair well with spicy foods due to hotness levels of the capsaicin present in spices like chilli peppers being enhanced by the alcohol with the heat accentuating the bitterness of the tannins. Milder spices, such as black pepper, pair better due to their ability to minimize the perception of tannins.
Fats and proteins reduce the perception of tannins on the palate. When Cabernet Sauvignon is paired with steak or dishes with a heavy butter cream sauce, the tannins are neutralized, allowing the fruits of the wine to be more noticeable. In contrast, starches such as pastas and rice will have little effect on tannins. The oak influences of the wine can be matched with cooking methods that have similar influences on the food-such as grilling, smoking and plank roasting. Dishes that include oak-influenced flavours and aromas normally found in Cabernet Sauvignon—such as dill weed, brown sugar, nutmeg and vanilla—can also pair well.