The King of Red Grapes -- Cabernet Sauvignon

It’s not without reason that the Cabernet Sauvignon is hailed as the King of red wine grapes. It’s highly adaptable, versatile, robust and durable—qualities that give this variety the almost reverential title of the king. Predictably, the Cabernet Sauvignon has a long and fascinating history. Discovered as a product of accidental breeding, it is now one of the most widely grown and blended varieties in the world and is also the choice of celebrities-turned-vintners like Antonio Banderas.

We take a closer look at this highly loved grape.
In seventeenth century South Western France, an accidental breeding happened between a red Cabernet Franc plant and a white Sauvignon Blanc plant. The Cabernet Sauvignon was thus born by chance but quickly grew up to wow wine drinkers the world over. Its lineage, however, was discovered only in 1997 during a DNA profiling of the grape by UC Davis.
The Cabernet Sauvignon is characterized by its thick, durable skin. It’s this quality that primarily made it popular among grape growers in France who wanted a durable vine that was relatively easy to grow.
It went on to become the most loved grape of Bordeaux, now known as the region that makes some of the best red wines in the world. The Cabernet Sauvignon is the preferred choice of winemakers for its rich and generous tannins that respond well to barrel ageing. With healthy tannins, the wine evolves over time when stored and aged in the right conditions.
It has a deep colour, good tannin structure, moderate acidity and predominant aromas of blackcurrant, raspberries, spices and cedarwood
The Cabernet Sauvignon is also a favourite in blends because it lends a full bodied texture and richness to the blend and softens the harshness of some other more robust red wines. Besides the famous Bordeaux Blend which includes the Cabernet Sauvignon along with Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, the variety is sought after in Spain where it meets the Tempranillo in a popular blend. In Australia, the Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz are a popular match.
The Cabernet sauvignon earned the sobriquet of the great colonizer because people around the world started growing the grape and it gradually became the most widely planted grape globally. A key reason for this is that the Cabernet Sauvignon is highly durable and adaptable and grows in disparate soil and climatic conditions from the cold climes of Canada to the warm plains of Nashik and Australia in the Southern Hemisphere.

It was the 1976 Judgement of France that brought the Cabernet Sauvignon from California into the reckoning. In this competition, French judges carried out blind tasting comparisons between Bordeaux wines from France and Cabernet Sauvignon wines from California. A California Cabernet Sauvignon was rated best in each category. It took the wine world by surprise since France had, until then, held the title of being the world’s best red wine producers. Cabernet Sauvignon was thus accepted as the world’s favourite red wine grape.

When it comes to the finer nuances of aromas and flavours, the Cabernet Sauvignon is a sure stunner. It’s high on aromas, some of the most prominent being ripe dark fruits such as cherry and raspberry, a hint of green pepper, tobacco and chocolate, especially in the fruit that’s grown in India.

Given its rich tannins and acidity, the Cabernet Sauvignon makes an excellent accompaniment to food, especially a cheese platter that includes Comte, Cheddar, Gruyere and aged Gouda. It’s a wine that enhances the rich flavours of foods such as hearty meat dishes or spicy Indian curries and kebabs.

Some of the most expensive Cabernet Sauvignon bottles are the Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon which sold in 2004 for $24,675. This was owned by American film writer and director Francis Ford Coppola who had described the wine as “there is a signature violet and rose petal aroma that completes this amazingly well-preserved, robust wine that had just finished fermentation at the time of Pearl Harbor.”

At a Napa valley wine auction in the year 2000, the Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1992 won the highest bid of around $500,000

The ruby red wine has also won celebrity attention from celebrities-turned-vintners. Actor Kyle MacLachlan launched his wine project, Pursued by Bear, with the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon. Canadian professional ice hockey player Wayne Douglas Gretzky’s wines may not have really made the mark but he chose a Cabernet Sauvignon to play with just as Antonio Banderas’s Ribera Del Duero also chose this highly popular grape to make what wasn’t really acknowledged as a great blend.

At Vallonne, we use this much loved and highly versatile grape to make five wines. We have creatively used it to produce India’s first Rose made from the Cabernet Sauvignon. The grape goes into our unique blend of Merlot and Malbec and lends it a certain richness and softness. We have a delightful young Cabernet Sauvignon that makes for an easy drinking with its flavours of cherry and raspberry and a reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Classique, a rich full bodied wine with soft tannins achieved by barrel ageing. But we hail the characteristics of this lovable grape variety with our Anokhee Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2009 vintage, one of the best red wines in our bouquet.