Cabernet is celebrated on the 30th of August each year around the globe, deemed ‘International Cabernet Day’. As one of the key varieties to launch our winery 50 years ago, it’s an important variety to our family’s history. Today’s a great day to celebrate by opening a bottle of Cabernet and enjoying the ‘King of Grapes’!
Boasting firm tannin, great acidity and rich aromas and flavours; Cabernet Sauvignon is a true Australian classic. Whilst being the world’s most widely planted grape, Australia makes up 18% of the world’s plantings and the variety planted across almost every wine region in Australia.
First originating in the Gironde in south west France, Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Cabernet Sauvignon has a long history in Australia dating back to when it first arrived on Australian shores in 1832. It was a difficult variety to adapt and took some time to establish itself. These days, innovation and craftsmanship has shaped Cabernet to the popular style it is today.
When Taylors Wines was first established in 1969 we planted the largest contiguous Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in the Southern Hemisphere. In 1973, the first release of our Taylors Estate Cabernet Sauvignon was awarded a gold medal at every national wine show it was entered into. Today this wine is exported around the world and is one of our most popular styles.
Australia’s unique climate and landscape produces very diverse styles across each region in Australia, so it’s a great wine to explore the differences across various producers.
Australia produces immediately fresh and elegant styles to be enjoyed now, alternatively Cabernet is a classic wine for any budding collector as it has immense potential for long term age-ability.
There are many diverse winemaking techniques that can be used to produce Cabernet Sauvignon. It is successful as a standalone single varietal wine but also in many classic wine blends.
One such technique that we use is regional blending. An example of this can be found with the Jaraman Cabernet Sauvignon, which is a very special example of the variety where the fruit is sourced from both our Clare Valley estate and a grower partner in the Coonawarra wine region. The winemakers actually make two separate wines from the regional parcels so the unique regional characteristics are preserved. Their artistic sensibilities are then indulged as they blend the two parcels seamlessly together to produce a multi-layered wine of interminable interest and wonderful complexity.
Boasting lots of tannin, great acidity and rich aromas; Cabernet Sauvignon is a true Australian classic. It is typically a medium to full bodied wine with flavours of black cherry, blackcurrant, mint, eucalyptus, capsicum and cassis.
In the Clare Valley, the combination of the right soils, elevation and climate tick all the boxes from a viticultural perspective but the uniqueness really comes from the large diurnal temperature range experienced in the region right throughout the growing season. The extreme difference between the average daytime vs night time temperatures are due to elevation but more so, the region’s proximity to a large body of water just some 50 km to the west. We are a warm region with temperatures moderated by proximity to ocean and elevation.
So, the family planted their Cabernet vines in the right place. And whilst the saying ‘great wines are made in the vineyard’ is true, it is particularly true for Cabernet Sauvignon. This variety in particular benefits most from what is described as ‘hang-time’. Cabernet Sauvignon not only starts to ripen late in the season, but it also needs an extended ripening time. This is because of the nature of the tannin structure of the variety. You see, Cabernet Sauvignon is quite a tiny grape. This means that there is a lower ratio of pulp (where the juice resides) to skin, seeds and stalk (where the tannins reside).
As the grape progresses through the ripening stage, it is accumulating sugar but there is also the physiological ripeness that needs to occur – where the flavours develop and the tannins lignify, begin to change their structure and flavour profiles – essentially moving from green (sappy) to brown (savoury).
The vine’s growing conditions need to be conducive to allow the physiological ripening to catch up to the sugar accumulation, so the resultant wines are ‘balanced’ and importantly are picked too early and display those ‘green’ sappy tannin flavours. That’s where the diurnal temperature shift comes into play.
The rapid drop in overnight temperatures slows the accumulation of sugar and allows the flavours to develop and the tannins to ripen (or lignify). An added bonus is the cold nights protect the flavours and stabilise the colours too!
The next piece of the puzzle is to have a winemaking team that truly understand how to not only respect the fruit so the delicate flavour, aroma and colour compounds are not compromised or lost in the winemaking process. They go to extreme lengths in the cellars to do this. From only destemming, never crushing, which mitigates any uncontrolled levels of undesirable bitter compounds being introduced, to time & resource consuming practices such as cold soaking to extract colour as gently as possible.
We’d recommend pairing Cabernet with fatty rich meats such as lamb chops, scotch fillet or beef stew, otherwise it could be a nice match for roast duck breast.
Remember serving temperature is important to consider when getting the best out of your wine. The ideal temperature to serve full bodied red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz is between 16-18 degrees.