Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world's finest red wine grapes. From Bordeaux
to California and increasingly in Italy and even Chile, Cabernet makes great red
wines. Australia is no exception making great Cabernet in Western Australia,
South Australia, Victoria and the Hunter Valley.
Cabernet grapes tend to be thick skinned with bunches of small berries, and also
only give moderate sized crops in general. This means that wines made from these
grapes will have plenty of skins from which to get colour, flavour and tannin,
and have plenty of flavour as a finished wine.
Cabernet based wines can tend to be quite tannic when they're young, but age
very gracefully with a softening of the tannin and the slow development of
complexity, cedar and cigar box aromas. In regions where the grapes do not quite
ripen there can be a 'capsicum' or 'green bea' character. This can add
complexity to the wine, but if more than a trace it tends to distract from the
experience and be a fault. Very ripe Cabernets from warm climates tend to be
less distinctively Cabernet, and develop chocolate and richer flavours, and
while delicious young, do not cellar as well. The flavour profile in Cabernets
tends to be black and red currant, blackberry, and cassis, with occasional hints
of mint, chocolate and even regional earthiness.
Regional versions of this wine can be noticed and I will mention these below
along with some recommended wines to try from each region.
Consistently Australia's best Cabernets are made in the Coonawarra region of
South Australia. This is a small cigar shaped region with red 'Terra Rossa'
soils over limestone, free draining and with a cool climate. The wines from here
tend to be well balanced with a very good cellar potential
Wynns John Riddoch
Lindemans St George
The warm climate here tends to produce richer dark and fleshy wines with
typical chocolate hints. Blackberry more than blackcurrant is often the dominant
Penfolds Bin 707 (although very much a multi region blend these days)
In Central Victoria there is often a mint/eucalyptus hint to these wines over
classic cassis and blackcurrant.
Very good region indeed for Cabernet wines, slight gravelly hints with red berry
fruit and usually great length and cellaring ability.
Very regional as all their reds seem to be, earthy style whose regional nature
continues as they age.
Gavin is the manager of the
Australian Wine Centre (a large
collection of affordable, rare and cult Australian wines) and hosts the very
popular Auswine Forum (An online
discussion forum about Australian wine) . You may reprint this article either on
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