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Drawing on its lineage, Cabernet Sauvignon
is the most popular red wine in the world

Wayne Wine
Shafer vineyards produces a highly sought-after Cabernet. Photo courtesy of Shafer Vineyards

Wayne on Wine
By Wayne Crawford

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Wayne Crawford

The king of grapes is French — a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Drawing on its lineage for its name, Cabernet Sauvignon is the most popular red wine in the world.

In Bordeaux, this grape is second in production to Merlot and is the dominant blend in the Left Bank Bordeaux wines. In the United States including California, Cabernet Sauvignon is second to Chardonnay as the dominant grape in production and sales volume.

The leading source for Cabernet is neither California nor Bordeaux but Chile, with Australia comfortably in fourth place. King Cab is well-positioned around the world for consumption in such far-flung locations as Argentina, Eastern Europe and South Africa.

Soil temperature is a dominant factor in growing Cabernet Sauvignon, and warmer climates greatly assist ripening. This thick-skinned, small, round, very dark grape’s resistance to rot and frost is an advantage to the wine grower.

Cabernet Sauvignon’s appeal is a mixture of stimulating black currant, cedar and dark berry aromas combined with luscious black cherry and plum flavors on the palate. The substantial tannins and acidity allow the winemaker to craft wines with exceptional aging potential. In its youth, the wine is a blue-purple-red color; within a decade, it starts to take on a brick-red hue.
Cabernet Sauvignon is also remarkable for its wide price range. On the high end, all the first-growth Bordeaux wines are Cab-based: Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Latour, Château Margaux, Château Haut-Brion and Château Mouton Rothschild.

On the California cult side, Screaming Eagle, Grace Family Vineyards and Harlan Estate can reach $1,500 a bottle. Equally in demand are Shafer Hillside Select, Camus Special Select, Bryant Family, Leonetti, Quilceda Creek and Peter Michael.
Well-priced quality Cabernets to consider include: $13, Geyser Peak 2006, Alexander Valley; $25, Conn Creek 2007, Napa Valley; $20, Edge 2009, Napa Valley; $22, Fuse 2009, Napa Valley; $25, Martin Ray 2009 Reserve, Napa Valley; $22, Oberon 2009, Napa Valley; $17, Morande 2007, Maipo Valley, Chile; $9, Mezzacorona 2007, Dolomiti, Italy; and $19, Charles Smith, Washington state.

Blind-tasting discoveries
The Big Canoe Wine Group’s August blind-tasting included eight Cabernet Sauvignon wines, ranging from 2001 to 2007. The winners are highlighted below in ‘Wines Drinking Well Now.’ Braised, grilled and roasted beef, wild game and game birds, lamb, steaks and aged cheeses including blue cheese and aged Gouda make good food pairings with this full-bodied red wine.

Wayne Wine
Big Canoe Wine Group’s August blind-tasting included eight Cabernet Sauvignon wines, ranging from 2001 to 2007. Photo courtesy of Wayne Crawford

‘Wines Drinking Well Now’
Black Cordon Vineyard 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Calif., priced at $64.99. Dark black-purple in color; 93 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 4 percent Cabernet Franc, 3 percent Petit Verdot with a 15.1 percent alcohol content. On the nose, black currant and black cherry with hints of licorice, coffee and floral notes. A balanced Cab with typical black cherry and plum flavors on the palate.

Black Cordon Vineyard is a nine-acre hillside vineyard owned by David and Karen Dunphy. This Cabernet is made by Paul Hobbs, one of the best-known winemakers in Napa. Best after 2014.

Whalebone Vineyard and Winery 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, Calif., priced at $35. In addition to the Cabernet Sauvignon, 7 percent Petite Sirah. Crafted from grapes grown at 1,800 feet above sea level, this is a fruit-forward wine with raspberry and black cherry aromas. On the palate, the wine offers black cherry, oak and peppery flavors.

Galleron Signature Wine 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, Calif., priced at $35. Aromas of rich fruit spiced with black pepper and smoky oak. Smooth tannins with blackberry, cherry and vanilla oak on the palate. A long, seductive finish. Gary Galleron, from one of the oldest wine families in Napa, is the winemaker.

Georgia wine update
Georgia’s has two new wineries in Rabun County. Stonewall Creek Vineyard and12 Spies Vineyards are producing wine near Tiger Mountain Vineyards. Cultivated on nine acres in Rabun Gap (550 Black Branch Road), 12 Spies is owned and operated by Mike Brown and Lisa Romanello (12spiesvineyards.com). They are growing Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Tannat and Traminette.
Stonewall Creek Vineyard, 323 Standing Deer Lane in Tiger — just four miles west of Tiger Mountain — is built on five acres of vinifera, including Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Manseng and Tannat (stonewallcreek.com). Owners Carl and Carla Fackler are joined by vineyard manager Miguel Barcenas.

Drink what you like!

The next article returns the Big Canoe Wine Group to investigation of Rhone Valley Red Wines.

Crawford is a certified specialist of Wine CSW and a member of the Society of Wine Educators and the American Wine Society.

 

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