Grape Variety

Cabernet Sauvignon Grape: an Easy Guide

Cabernet Sauvignon Grape Variety

Cabernet Sauvignon: Origins

Cabernet Sauvignon is the most cultivated red grape variety in the world. There are two varieties of Cabernet grape: Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, both derived from Vitis Caburnica. This grapevine arrived in Italy from Greece, already in Ancient Roman times, as reported by the roman author Pliny the Elder, in his Naturalis Historia. Then, from the Italian peninsula, it passed to France, following the conquests of the Roman soldiers, where it was mainly cultivated in the area of Burdigala, the ancient name of the present day Bordeaux.
In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc, other vines are derived from Vitis Caburnica, such as Merlot, Malbec and Carmènére.
In particular, Cabernet Sauvignon was born from a subsequent spontaneous crossing between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Therefore its name represents the fusion between the ancient term “Caburnica” and the “Sauvage” Sauvignon.

Cabernet Sauvignon: Diffusion

Barons Edmond Benjamin de Rothschild Haut-Médoc

Barons Edmond Benjamin de Rothschild: a great Cabernet Sauvignon from Haut-Médoc:

Where there is viticulture, there is Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, this grape variety is grown in 43 countries.
It is in France that Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as Cabernet Franc, has its greatest diffusion, since it is the protagonist of the renowned Bordeaux Blends.
In particular, Bordeaux wines of Médoc and Graves, on the west bank of the Gironde, fully describe the richness and ageing potential of this grape transformed into wine.
The diffusion of Cabernet Sauvignon in France does not end here, as this variety also gives excellent results in the Loire Valley, in Languedoc-Roussillon and in Provence.
Cabernet Sauvignon Grape Variety shows its best even when grown in Tuscany region, where it has become one of the protagonists of the famous Supertuscan, special Bordeaux Blend Style Wines, 100% made in Italy. Still in Italy, Cabernet Sauvignon expresses its best qualities also in the red blend wines produced in the Euganean Hills, in the Veneto region, in Friuli and in Trentino Alto Adige, where it finds optimal soil and climatic conditions to perfectly ripen.
Other terroirs renowned for the excellence of their single-varietal red wines, based on Cabernet Sauvignon, are Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley in California.
Another chosen place, for the elegance and strength of its Cabernet Sauvignon wines, is the Barossa Valley in southern Australia, the largest wine region in the world.
Cabernet Sauvignon is also a successful grapevine in South America, where it gives life to red blends rich in colour, aromas and taste, mostly produced in the Maipo Valley, in Chile, and in the Mendoza region in Argentina.

Cabernet Sauvignon Grape: Cultivation Needs

Rodney Strong Cabernet SauvignonRodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon

Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon: a taste of the best California red wines

Cabernet Sauvignon has adapted to cultivation in a number of territories, thanks to its good vigor and excellent resistance to parasites and rot. This grape variety likes to be grown in the foothills and prefers sunny and windy climates, never too rigid or hot, with great diurnal temperature variations.
Its ideal habitat provides well-draining soils, which retain water reserves in depth, rich in pebbles, perfect for retaining and radiating the heat necessary for the ripening process.
When the grapevine has to fight to find the right nourishment through its roots, then the berries will be smaller but more concentrated. That’s why, in Cabernet Sauvignon cultivation, it is crucial to mantain low yields, because they favor concentration in the wine.
All these factors combined help the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes to reach phenolic maturity (that is when the whole grapes achieve ripeness) in time for the harvest.
Generally, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are picked in the first two weeks of October (in April, in the vineyards of the Southern Hemisphere).

Cabernet Sauvignon Wines


Unlike Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon stands out for its never aggressive grassy notes and for its ability to give life to full-bodied, intense and elegant wines, despite the adjective sauvage, meaning wild, in its name.
Cabernet Sauvignon can make wines with an intense ruby red colour, with vivid aromas of wild berries, accompanied by floral, balsamic and mineral sensations that reminds you of violets, aromatic herbs, mown grass, musk and walnut skin. An earthy character that, with the right aging time, gets spicy and toasted perceptions with even hints of leather. In fact, Cabernet Sauvignon Wines are famous for their ability to evolve and intensify their aromas and flavours over time. It is no coincidence that Médoc Premier Grand Cru Classé are among the longest-lived red wines in the world.
When tasted, Cabernet Sauvignon Wines impress with the strength of their tannins that soften over time, with a full flavour and the right freshness: a decisive feature in defining the ageing potential of a wine. These wines boast a long and intense persistence, soft, tasty and balsamic at the same time, with pleasant taste-olfactory sensations of red fruits, like raspberry, herbs and peppery spices.

Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Colour

Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Colour

Food Pairings

Cabernet Sauvignon Wines, thanks to their vibrant aromas and tastiness, full of fruity, woody, grassy and spicy flavours, pair well with gourmet and succulent recipes and, in particular, with second courses based on white, red and game meats, even if enriched by the presence of dried fruit, aromatic herbs and spices.
Whatever the recipe is, it should possess a fragrant and persistent taste, just to fully enjoy the unique aromas and savory taste of an excellent Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine.
In fact, the red wines, made from this grape variety, harmoniously match the aromas and flavour of mushrooms and truffles, of wild berries, herbs and Mediterranean spices.
These wines reveal a full, persistent and balanced structure and they are often a perfect pairing for all the following recipes, because of their intense taste that awakens the palate:

Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Pairings: Roasted lamb with herbs

Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Pairings: roasted lamb with herbs

  • Venison fillet with bacon and plums
  • Pork fillet in wine sauce
  • Milanese ossobuco
  • Duck breast with honey and spices
  • Beef fillet with green peppercorn sauce
  • Veal rolls with ham and mushroom stuffing
  • Pork loin roast
  • Rabbit stew or ragout with herbs
  • Roasted lamb with fennel and rosemary
  • Beef steak with Grana Padano and arugula
  • Coq au Vin
  • Rack of lamb with mushroom sauce
  • Beef Wellington
  • Beef fillet with porcini and black truffle
  • Hard and semi-hard aged cheeses like Fontina Valdostana, Grana Padano, Gouda and Cheddar
  • Soft-ripened cheeses, with earthy notes, like Brie with truffle