Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon


  • France: Bordeaux
  • Spain: Navarra
  • Italy: Tuscany
  • USA: Sonoma, Napa Valley
  • Australia: Barossa, Margaret River
  • Chile: Maipo
  • Other: Romania, Bulgaria


  • Cabernet Sauvignon is a famous wine with a large audience. This is a great way to explore the Bordeaux wines, and while you are doing that, make sure to choose either a Grand Cru Classe or a Cru Bourgeois (something with a Château on the lable).


  • Decanting up to 2 hours and up to 30 minutes for wines aged 20 years or more
  • Sediment can be found in older wines
  • 16 – 18 °C (61 – 64 °F)
  • Bordeaux glass


  • Steak, grilled or roasted meat and vegetables, burgers, meatballs, Portabello mushrooms, lasagna, rich food with creamy, buttery sauces, chocolate
  • Semi hard cheeses, Gouda, Gruyere, Comte, Taleggio,

Cabernet Sauvignon is the most planted and one of the most well known grapes in the world. It originated in France and is in fact a crossing between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc which has only recently been discovered, in the 90’s.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a grape that is quite easy to grow as it has small, thick skins, is late ripening, prone to low yields and is resistant to rot and other vine diseases. As a result the wine is dark purple in color, full bodied with high tannins and a balanced acidity. Due to its tannins, such wines can age very well and preferably should not be consumed too young.

Cabernet is the main grape of Bordeaux’s left bank where it is often blended with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and sometimes with Petit Verdot and Malbec as part of the Bordeaux blend. The Cabernet Sauvignon blends that you will find on the left bank are higher in tannins, alcohol and acidity, and have a much better aging power than the right bank blends.

To understand how to choose a good Cabernet from France, we must explain the unique and intricate Bourdeaux classification system which can make it tricky to choose a wine.

How to choose a great Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux

Bordeaux left bank, right bank

Bordeaux, Left bank

  • Bordeaux left bank = Cabernet Sauvignon dominant grape
  • Bordeaux has a very complicated classification system but the important thing to know is that an AOC also has village AOCs. For example Haut – Médoc AOC has smaller AOCs like St. Julien. Generally the smaller the AOC the more rules it has regarding the quality of the wine so if a wine from St. Julien does not meet the requirements of that village AOC, it might pass as Haut – Médoc or even Bordeaux if the Haut – Médoc requirements are not met either.
  • Major appellations:
    • Pauillac (Haut – Médoc)
    • St. Estephe (Haut – Médoc)
    • St. Julien (Haut – Médoc)
    • Margaux (Haut – Médoc)
    • Pessac – Léognan (Graves)
  • Wine classifications for dry, red, left bank wines:
    • The 1855 Classification (also referred to as Grand Cru Classé) – top quality, ranks the wines from first growth to fifth growth according to price. It has 59 red wines from Médoc and 1 red wine from Graves. Premier Cru include 5 Châteaus: Margaux, Latour, Lafite – Rothschild, Haut – Brion, Mouton-Rothschild; also includes Médoc and Sauternes Châteaus
    • The Médoc Cru Bourgeois – good quality although a step below the 1855 Classification; awarded annually, only certain vintages receive this classification and are great value for money.
    • Bordeaux AOC or Bordeaux Supérieur AOC – more than half of Boudeaux’s wines; average quality; preferably avoid this type of wine.
  • Choose a wine that has Mis en Bouteille au Château/ a la Proprietere: this means that the wine was bottled at the estate where the grapes come from and where the wine was produced and has not been blended with grapes from other places.
  • Outstanding vintages (left bank): 1995, 2000, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2016

Other Cabernet Sauvignon Regions


  • Regions: Sonoma, Napa Valley
  • Napa Valley wine style: due to the diverse microclimates, the wines can vary based on the sub-appellation they are from (AVA). The mountainous, hillside region with thin soils usually means that the vineyards produce smaller berries with richer flavors
  • Sonoma wine style: more red fruit flavors than Napa Valley with rounder notes


  • Used often as a blending grape
  • Part of the controversial “Super Tuscan” wine which meant adding Cabernet Sauvignon to Sangiovese back when it was not allowed to blend Sangiovese with a “foreign” grape, however it did not stop producers which wanted to add Cabernet Sauvignon to enhance the quality of the wine. Today this kind of blend is allowed in Tuscany.
  • Langhe: blended with Nebbiolo and Barbera
  • Lombardy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Emilia-Romagna: blended with Merlot
  • Veneto: blended with Valpolicella blend
  • Called Carignan
  • Regions: Languedoc-Roussillon (Fitou, Faugères, Corbières)
  • Often bleded with Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault
  • In Languedoc-Roussillon it is mainly produced as table wine

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Cabernet Sauvignon, 2017

  • Country and region: USA, California, Lodi
  • Producer: Michael David Winery
  • Blend: 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Petite Sirah 
  • Alcohol content: 14.5%
  • Tasting notes: jammy fruit notes, cherry, fig, vanilla, French oak, chocolate, medium acidity, velvety tannins, medium body