Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most planted wine varietals in the world, and with good reason. When produced correctly, it is naturally a full, grippy, full-bodied wine with excellent aging potential. This mighty grape is also relatively easy to grow and is used for some of the world’s best brands and blends.
So what would it take to grow this varietal successfully? According to most winemakers, the terroir and climate’s significant role in growing Cabernet is to determine the style in which it will be produced. It performs well in most climates and soil types, so it is purely about what flavors and aromas the winemakers want to present in the wine.
Cool climates will allow green flavors – like bell pepper and asparagus. Cabernet will portray mint, pepper, and black currants flavors in a warmer climate. Want to learn about Cabernet? Take a class at your local wine school and turn your passion into a career!
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A Sommelier’s Top Wine Regions For Cabernet
Margaret River in Australia
Margaret River is one of Australia’s famous wine regions and has produced premium wines. In the Western corner of Australia lies this completely isolated region with great diversity and uniqueness. Cabernet is the region’s star, generally with earthy, cassis characteristics.
This region has a Mediterranean-style climate that is relatively dry with four distinct seasons. With the variety of different temperatures, rain, and sunshine, the vines can develop ideally. In addition, the soil in the region is predominantly gravel and granite, forcing the vines to strain and deliver premium quality.
Due to the complexity of the terroir and region, the Cabernet is complex and well structured.
Aconcagua in Chile
On the border of Chile and Argentina lies the Aconcagua Valley. This region has a dry, hot, desert-like climate that many do not consider suitable for farming.
Although the area experiences extreme heat, it is counterbalanced by the ocean breeze and the shelter from the mountains against the sun. Furthermore, with the implementation of reservoirs and melting snow that runs down the mountain, the area also receives (and stores) some much-needed water for the vines.
The soil plays an entirely different role in vine development in this region than usual. The primary soil types are sandy – which adds no depth to the wine. A certified sommelier fact: This specific soil does, however, prevents an outbreak of phylloxera – which would devastate the region’s production entirely. The area might not be well-known, but the grapes from this region are said to be unbeatable.
Bordeaux in France
The left Bordeaux bank tends to be the region most think of when Cabernet comes to mind. Bordeaux is, after all, the creator of the classic Bordeaux blend – made predominantly from Cabernet.
Bordeaux has a unique cool climate – with high temperatures in the summer months but cool air at night. The combination of this hot and coolness allows a perfect balance of grape ripening and the development of acidity in the grape.
The soil in Bordeaux is either clay-and-limestone or gravel-and-sand. Both types allow the soil to be well-drained, creating a distinct flavor profile in the grapes. However, the vines in this area also face strain due to the soil type and drainage – paramount for developing quality – which is what Bordeaux Cabs are known for.
Stellenbosch in South Africa
Stellenbosch is the most famous wine region in South Africa – and the part sees the plantation of Cabernet Sauvignon more than any other varietal. The area is known for some of the oldest vineyard soils globally, consisting of the ancient, decomposed seabed. Stellenbosch is very similar to Bordeaux concerning climate, style, and earth, with slightly warmer temperatures than Bordeaux.
A certified sommelier fact: the soils in Stellenbosch are mainly granite, loam, clay, and sandstone. The clay in the soil ensures moisture for the vines constantly – which means there is little need for irrigation. Although the summers in this part can become relatively hot, Stellenbosch is close enough to the ocean for the ocean breeze to keep that under control.
Cabs from USA
The Cabs of Santa Cruz Mountains
This mountainous region is known for producing well-balanced red wine made to age. This region whole-heartedly supports sustainable farming, and everyone is involved in practices that take nothing from nature but are put back.
It is much cooler on the west side of the mountains, and the cooler-climate varietals are situated there. Cabernet is grown on the eastern side and does well in the loam, limestone, and clay soils. The wine from this region contains a good amount of minerality due to the earth – which is a significant characteristic of their wine.
A certified sommelier fact: The temperatures here are relatively consistent. The proximity to the ocean allows just the right of acid development, but it is just far enough inland to soak up some needed warmth.
Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley
Napa is often considered to produce the best Cabernet Sauvignon. That is not exactly true, but these cabs are stellar and priced accordingly. This region cemented California’s reputation as a top Cabernet producer. One of the best examples of the style is the Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon.
Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon
This region is widely sought out by wine lovers who embrace the round and lush styles of Cab. Luxury-level bottlings such as the Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon are some of the best made.
A Few Cabernet Sauvignon Wines We Don’t Recommend
When a grape is famous, there are always going to be brands that attempt to steal the thunder and make a fast profit. These are the wines we think are not worth the time.
- Bogle Cabernet Sauvignon
- Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon
- Yellow Tail Cabernet Sauvignon
- Sutter Home Cabernet Sauvignon
- barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon
- 19 Crimes Cabernet Sauvignon
- Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon
- Juggernaut Cabernet Sauvignon
- Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon
Final Thoughts on Cab
Cabernet will flourish in the harshest conditions; even Canada’s devastating colds won’t break the humble cultivar.
It is no wonder it is such a widely popular cultivar – the ability to be sturdy in any climate and only adapt beautifully to the environment is what makes this grape gold. It is incredible that this single varietal can go from depicting intense, mineral, green flavors – and in other regions, it shows deep, dark flavors, like black currants, tobacco, and black pepper.
Although this article deals with the ideal regions to plant Cabernet, it leans more to the currently exceedingly successful regions growing the varietal. Like we’ve said, this varietal can adapt to most extreme circumstances. So, we hope that this article has given you a newfound respect for the mighty Cabernet. Are we looking for more wine knowledge? You should check out our page on certified sommelier programs.