Cabernet Sauvignon – Is just as amazing in red blends!

  • Apr. 26, 2018 1:30 p.m.

Lovers of Burgundy, Riesling or Syrah might not agree but Cabernet Sauvignon has long been thought of as ‘The King’ of wine grapes.

Wherever it is grown, Cabernet Sauvignon makes wines with recognizable aromas and flavours of blackcurrants, often mint or eucalyptus. Matured in new oak, it can develop notes of cedar, leather and fresh cut tobacco. And almost always it has sturdy tannins that give its wines ‘weight’ and ‘structure’.

Those same characteristics that set it apart from other red wine grapes also make it a great addition to red blends!

Typically Australian, a multi-regional blend of 62 per cent Shiraz and 38 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, Rawson’s Retreat Shiraz Cabernet (419529) $11.49 offers up oodles of rich raspberry, blackberry and blackcurrant notes. More fruit-forward than subdued, this is an ideal candidate for chilling slightly and taking outside to a barbeque.

In cool-climate regions, when it doesn’t get enough sun and heat to ripen evenly and completely, Cabernet Sauvignon can show green, weedy characteristics.

A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot, usually priced at $16.99 Mission Hill 5 Vineyards Cabernet Merlot (257816) is a steal at $13.99. Black cherry and cassis aromas on the nose extend through the first sip with hints of sage, vanilla, lavender, and Asian 5 Spices!. Great to see a BC red priced competitively against international imports!

Named ‘Winery of the Year’ by Wines of Chile in 2015, Vinedas Emiliana S.A. is currently the world’s largest organic winery, with more than 800 hectares of certified organic vineyards producing 580,000 cases of organic wines exported to more than 60 countries.

A blend of 85 per cent Carménère with 15 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, Emiliana Novas Grand Reserve Carménère Cabernet Sauvignon (771840) $14.49 shows ripe black fruit aromas and flavours. No one has summed it up better than the Globe & Mail’s Beppi Crosariol, reviewing the wine in January 2018: “Imagine currants and mint leaves on a charred cedar plank”.

Chile is a hotbed of fabulous Cabernet Sauvignon blends and ripe Colchagua Valley Carménère adds complexity to many of them. Producing wines sustainably has always been a priority for MontGras. Founded in 1998, Ninquén – meaning “Plateau on a Mountain” in the native Mapuche language – became Chile’s first Mountain Vineyard.

A breathtakingly complex red, Montgras Antu Ninquen Cabernet Sauvignon Carménère (139295) $16.99 combines 70 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon with 30 per cent Carménère aged 14 months in 50 per cent new French and American oak. A medley of ripe red and black fruit flavours finishes in cedar, sandalwood and lingering layers of coffee and dark chocolate.

Savvy wine lovers know that many of Italy’s most sought after red wines – collectively known as SuperTuscans – combine varying amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and even Syrah with Tuscany’s traditional Sangiovese wine grapes. The Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) designation was created, in part, to recognize the quality of these non-traditional blends.

Castello di Gabbiano Dark Knight IGT Toscana (129682) $25.99 marries 50 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon with 30 per cent Merlot and adds 20 per cent Sangiovese. Aged 8 months in barrels it is silky, almost sweet, with ripe berry fruit flavours sliding into soy sauce, cola, coffee and chocolate… and at the same time it is undeniably Italian.

California’s Paso Robles AVA which stretches between Los Angeles and San Francisco has a long history of producing high quality wines made from Zinfandel. The region’s prolonged growing season – warm days and cooler nights – leads to big wines with vibrant and concentrated fruit. But there’s more than just Zinfandel coming out of Paso Robles, these days.

The foundation of Beringer ‘The Waymaker’ 2015 (525477) $36.99 is 38 per cent Syrah from the rolling 600 acre Camatta Hills vineyard east of the town of Creston, California. Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 24 per cent of the balance of the blend, with 15 per cent Petite Sirah, 7 per cent Zinfandel, 6 per cent Tannat, 3 per cent Mourvèdre, 3 per cent Petit Verdot, 3 per cent Malbec. There’s a lot going on in a glass of this luscious red. Prepare to be delightfully distracted when you take that first sip!

Clearly, Cabernet Sauvignon mkes great wines wherever it is grown. Adding regional international specialty grapes and wines only makes Cabernet Sauvignon more fascinating.

Reach WineWise by emailing