Wine Tasting Club – Cabernet Sauvignon
I must say, I’ve been remiss. All the times that I’ve written up a topic for the Wine Tasting Club, only now do I realize that I have yet to say anything about Cabernet Sauvignon. Both in the wine and web world, this is one grape that refuses to be ignored. I thought about this as I was drinking a glass of 2008 Finca Flichman Cabernet Sauvignon.
According to the Oxford Companion to Wine edited by British wine authority, Jancis Robinson, “Cabernet Sauvignon [is] the world’s most renowned grape variety for the production of fine red wine.” Well, there you have it. If there’s one grape you should get to know, this is it. Cab Sauv is revered the world over for some very good reasons. First, it makes up a significant portion of the wines of Bordeaux. Blended with other grapes grown in the region, it gives wine a beautiful deep, concentrated colour and a hint of chocolate taste. Blending is a great use for it. But, this particular grape demands the spotlight, too. Looking for something a little different? Keep an eye out for wine made entirely from Cab Sauv. Winemakers love it for its structure and malleability. In the hands of a skilled artisan, it will reveal the winemaker’s techniques, vintage characteristics and terroir. Here’s another reason why this grape is such a hit. It’s easily exportable. Plant it pretty much anywhere and it thrives. Finally, its phenolic concentration is such that Cab Sauv survives long ageing exceedingly well. Miracle grape? Indeed.
Like so many grape varieties, no one really knows how, when or where Cabernet Sauvignon developed. What is certain is that Cab Sauv’s reputation and popularity didn’t take off until the 18th century. It was then that winemakers began vinifying with longevity in mind. The grape is not without its challenges, though. It’s a small berry on the vine with a large pip and thick, blue-tinged skin. That combination inevitably produces wine with high tannin levels and a very deep, dark colour. Probably best, from the grape grower’s point of view, is that the thick skin tends to deter rot. The aroma and taste of wine made exclusively from Cabernet Sauvignon will vary depending on the country in which it was made and the producer. Generally, though, you should be able detect elements of berries, vanilla, coconut, chocolate and green pepper.
2008 Finca Flichman Misterio Cabernet Sauvignon, Argentina ($8)
There’s no reason why you can’t pair a decent wine for under $10 with a great meal and still enjoy the experience. This wine, though perhaps not the greatest Cab Sauv ever produced, matched perfectly well with long-simmered osso buco. Misterio is purple in colour with aromas of cassis, smoke and blackberry. Those aromas were replicated on the palate in addition to a slight vegetal flavour. Medium-bodied and tannic, you can drink it now or wait for a couple of years for the tannins to soften up a bit.