Tag Archives: cabernet franc

Grape of the Week: Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet_ucd

I hope you like this idea. I’ll do a post on a different variety every week, which means after awhile we’ll be looking at some varieties that aren’t so familiar – could be a lot of fun!

I want to start with the undisputed King of Grapes here in Napa Valley – Cabernet Sauvignon. Here goes:

Cabernet Sauvignon – AKA: Cabernet, Cab Sav, Cab, Petite Cabernet, Vidure, Petite-Vidure, Bouche, Petite-Bouche, Bouchet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Rouge, Burdeos Tintos (these last several arcane synonyms courtesy of the UC Davis website.)

Like all the other varieties, this grape appears in many guises, depending upon where it’s grown and the winemaking techniques employed. But, overall, you can expect this grape to produce a substantial, deeply colored red wine that’s noticeably tannic and very rich in black fruit flavors: blackberry, black cherry, black currant; plus it may show earth, cedar, bell pepper, green olive or any number of other descriptors, depending, again, on where it’s grown and how the wine is made. When the winemaker chooses new barrels for aging the wood may add vanilla, spice, smoke, grilled bread, mocha, nutty character or a sense of  toastiness (see more on this in “Notes from the Tasting,” below). And since tannin comes from the grape skins, and the Cabernet grape has thick skin, you’ll come to expect firm tannins from your Cab, which can help make it age worthy, in varying degrees. Continue reading

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What’s the Difference Between Cabernet and Merlot?

Question from Steve: Am I the only one that finds it hard to tell the difference between Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon? How do I tell them apart?  
 
Reply: Hi, Steve. I think it’s confusing for a lot of people and I salute you for being the one with the courage to ask the question. BTW, what is it about wine that makes everyone feel like there’s something wrong with them if they don’t know everything about wine? A <a href=" http://www.mastersofwine.org/” target=”_blank”>Master of Wine once said something that really rings true: “No on can master wine. There’s too much to know.” So, no need to feel insecure, right?

The truth is that Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon make wines that taste quite similar, as most winemakers will tell you. Both varieties come from the Bordeaux region of France, where they’re traditionally blended together.

In fact, Merlot is the most widely planted variety in Bordeaux which is probably because it ripens early than Cabernet Sauvignon. If the late-ripening Cabernet gets rained out, early-ripening Merlot can save the vintage. Continue reading

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