(cab-uhr-NAY sow-veeh-yawn) King of Red Many refer to Cabernet Sauvignon as the king of red grapes. Perhaps that title is due to its ability to grow worldwide in a number of climates, or to the fact that it produces wine with such character yet such diversity. Either way, this grape is responsible, as a whole or a partner, for some of the greatest wines in the world. In Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon is the principle grape of the Medoc. It plays a supporting role in the blends of the right bank in regions such as St-Emillion and Pomerol. It also found a very successful home in California - particularly the Napa Valley - where it crafts the classic and cult wines of the region. However, Cabernet is a hearty grape, and has taken well to many regions: South America, Australia, South Africa, Washington State and Italy's Tuscan coast.
Notable Facts The Cabernet Sauvignon grape is a small berry with a thick skin and a high pip to pulp ratio. This in turn creates a wine high in color, tannin and extract. Typical Cabernet Sauvignon descriptors include blackberry, cassis, cedar and currant. Because the grape adapts to many different soils and climates, its characteristics truly reflect a sense of place. In Bordeaux you'll find the more earthy, tannic side of Cabernet, where it's typically blended to soften tannins and add complexity. In warmer regions like California and Australia, you'll frequently find ripe fruit flavors upfront. Cabernet Sauvignon crafts wines as a single varietal and as a blending partner, where it can add structure and tannins.
Summing it up Successful Sites: Just about everywhere, particularly Bordeaux and California
Common Descriptors: blackberry, black chery, black currant, cassis, herbs, cedar, tobacco, earth
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Vin de Pays
(vahn duh peh-YEE)
One of the lower levels in the French Classification system, Vin de Pays is an intermediary wine, created for vineyards who were not quite AC, but vastly superior to Vin de Table wine. Vin de Pays has restrictions similar to the AC, but on a lesser scale. Regulations include specified region, minimum alcohol level and grape varieties. The wine also goes through a tasting panel. Some winemakers able to make wine at an AC level, instead choose to create wine at the Vin de Pays level as it allows more flexibility in grape varieties and yields. There are five regional Vin de Pays, with the most popular being Vin Pays d'Oc (from Languedoc & Roussillon). Vin de Pays wines offer wonderful value and good wine finds.