|Food 99/1: Cabernet Sauvignon|
|Tuesday, 14 June 2011 09:27|
Mention Father’s Day dinner, one’s immediate response is BBQ. Steak. What better partner for a BBQ’d steak than a full-bodied, beefy Cabernet Sauvignon? Cabernet Sauvignon is the name for both the grape and the wine it produces. It is what most people think red wine should taste like.
Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are small, deeply colored, thick-skinned berries that yield dark, intensely flavored, tannic, long-lived wines that often involve aging to soften them to become drinkable. Like chardonnay (see my last article), the grape can be grown in a multitude of different growing regions and conditions (although it prefers warmer climates) while faithfully imparting the characteristic varietal aromas and flavors.
Most often Cabernet Sauvignon wines are described to have black currant, cherry, bell pepper, Eucalyptus, mint and green olive aromas. If the wine has been oak aged, there will also be hints of vanilla, violets, cigar box, leather, cedar, mushrooms and sometimes tar. Tannins in the wine come from the thick skin and the high ratio of seeds and stems in the grape itself. Wine tannins come from grape skins, stems and seeds, and their extraction is heavily dependent on the particular winemaking process involved. Some tannins also come from barrels, particularly new ones, where these are used to age wine.
Tannins are what make the wine appear dry. It is believed the role of tannins in nature is one of plant defence: they have an astringent and aversive taste that repels potential consumers. As an animal or insect begins to munch on plant tissue, the tannins are released from cellular compartments and bind with the proteins and other cell components, making them taste unpleasant and rather indigestible.Bordeaux, France might be the world’s most famous wine producing areas and its Médoc region is best known for Cabernet Sauvignon. The most popular Médoc appellations/areas of origin of Margaux, St-Julien, Pauillac and St-Estephe benefit from being enveloped by two masses of water (the Atlantic ocean on one side and Gironde river on the other) creating a microclimate ideal for growing grapes; Bordeaux has some of the mildest weather in France. With its historical and current success with Cabernet Sauvignon, many winemakers around the world look to Bordeaux for a successful winemaking model.
California has had much success with Cabernet Sauvignon, having countless wines earning high praise and evaluations in world competitions. Regions from California to look to are: Mendocino County, Sonoma County (Alexander Valley, Dry Creek, Knight’s Valley, Russian River areas in particular) and Napa Valley (Carneros, Rutherford, Stag’s Leap areas in particular). Southern and Western Australia are significant areas producing Cabernet Sauvignon. The climate in this area is similar to that of Bordeaux.
About thirty percent of grapes planted in Australia are Cabernet Sauvignon, most notably in Coonawarra and the Margaret River. Coonawarra is known for its iron rich terra rossa soils and the full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon wines it produces. Chile is also an area of interest for Cabernet Sauvignon. The Central Valley is where the most popular appellations are Maipo and Colchagua, both producing excellent quality Cabernet Sauvignon wines.
It is most popular as a single variety wine, but because of the body of a Cabernet Sauvignon, it is often blended with other grapes. The grape variety is a late ripening one, sometimes having trouble achieving full ripeness in cooler years. If producing a well balanced wine is the final goal, then blending with a variety that will help round out that potential “greenness” seems quite natural. Bordeaux always blends grapes and Merlot is the main partner giving it a softness unavailable with Cabernet Sauvignon solo. Cabernet Franc (rumoured to one of its parents) adds some perfume and colour. In other regions like Australia, Shiraz and Merlot are used for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon.
There are many Cabernet Sauvignon wines (single variety or blends) that are meant to age for a few years, but there are many that are ready to pour as soon as you buy it. Generally speaking, top end ones from Bordeaux need a few years’ ageing, California and Australian Cabernet Sauvignon could use a few months to a few years’ ageing.
I know how hard it is to have a few bottles sitting around ageing and how tempting it is to drink them! That being said, the benefits of properly ageing a Cabernet Sauvignon are profound. Buy a few bottles and ration a bottle out every few months to a year and see how the wine changes. You’ll be amazed! A good “rule of thumb” is if you open a bottle and it doesn’t seem to open up or change at all over a period of a few hours, it is not an age-worthy wine. If you open a bottle up and the change of flavour and aromas is significant, that is a wine that is age-worthy.
Because, as I have said, wine choice IS a very personal one, once you have found the Cabernet Sauvignon for you (and Dad on father’s day) pair it up with a grilled ribeye steak. The cedar aromas and the tannins will hold up to the hearty steak. If steak isn’t your preference, try a Cabernet Sauvignon with a roast, or a hamburger, rack of Lamb, or strong cheeses.
Don’t forget drinking wine is all about experience, creating flavour memories and enjoying your wine savouring company. Remember to try to keep track of what you drink, what you like about it and the price so you can make wiser decisions next time you are standing in the wine aisle wondering what to buy!
And as always if you have any other wine or food questions drop by our website at www.ninetynineone.com and drop us a line in the Q&A section of the site. We’re always happy to answer any questions you have.
Cheers & happy quaffing.
- Rebecca Tibbitts
99/1 Food Service Management in Freeport is owned & run by Tim & Rebecca Tibbitts. 99/1 is a full service catering business serving scrumptious offerings with top quality ingredients. 99/1 also specializes in cooking classes, guided wine tastings & tutorials, drop off dinners & in home catering. www.ninetynineone.com 553-2426.
Newer news items:
Older news items: