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Cabernet Sauvignon

A noble variety bestowed with both power and concentration

A noble variety bestowed with both power and concentration, Cabernet Sauvignon is sometimes referred to as the “king” of red grapes. It can be somewhat unapproachable early in its youth but has the potential to age beautifully, with the ability to last fifty years or more at its best. Small berries and tough skins provide its trademark firm tannic grip, while high acidity helps to keep the wine fresh for decades. In cool growing seasons, Cabernet Sauvignon can be a bit thin and austere, but it flourishes in temperate climates like Bordeaux’s Médoc region (and in St-Emillion and Pomerol, where it plays a supporting role to Merlot). The top Médoc producers use Cabernet Sauvignon for their wine’s backbone, blending it with Merlot and smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and/or Petit Verdot. On its own, Cabernet Sauvignon has enjoyed great success in California’s Napa Valley and is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious and sought-after “cult” wines.

In the Glass

The Cabernet Sauvignon grape is a small berry with a thick skin and a high pip-to-pulp ratio, which 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.

Perfect Pairings

Cabernet Sauvignon is right at home with rich, intense meat dishes—beef, lamb, and venison, in particular—where its opulent fruit and decisive tannins make an equal match to the dense protein of the meat. With a mature Cabernet, opt for tender, slow-cooked meat dishes.

Sommelier Secrets

Avoid pairing with highly spiced foods—these can clash with Cabernet Sauvignon’s bold tannin profile and substantial alcohol, causing the heat of the food to magnify that of the wine, and vice versa.

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  • Leonetti Seven Hills Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1996
    Cabernet Sauvignon from Columbia Valley, Washington
    • ST 93
    • WS 91
    • RP 90
    Currently Unavailable $129.99
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  • Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2004
    Cabernet Sauvignon from Columbia Valley, Washington
    • RP 99
    • ST 95
    • WE 95
    • WS 95
    Currently Unavailable $369.00
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