As the 1980s drew to a close big, oaky Chardonnay gave way to lean, grassy Sauvignon Blanc and more recently the popularity of Prosecco prompted the biggest revolution in sparkling wine we’ve ever seen. Many grapes and styles of wine flit in and out of fashion from year to year but Cabernet Sauvignon is one grape that shows no sign of falling out of favour. This accidental 17th century lovechild of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc produces durable, deep purple grapes that make superb age-worthy wine. It is responsible for producing some of the world’s greatest (and most expensive!) wines. But what’s all the fuss about?
Old World Cabernet Sauvignon
Old World wines are from the European regions where winemaking originated thousands of years ago. Although Cabernet grapes are now grown all over Europe the most famous are from vines grown on the banks of the River Gironde in Bordeaux, south west France. Cabernet Sauvignon grown in the Old World is generally blended with another varietal; in Bordeaux its famous bedfellow is Merlot, but Italians have developed a wonderful blend using Sangiovese and winemakers all over Eastern Europe combine it with local varietals. Traditional Old World Cabernet has a concentrated core of blackcurrant fruit alongside layers of toasted oak.
New World Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon’s success in Europe prompted wider plantings all over the newer winemaking regions. Its vines can now be found in Australasia, South Africa, the US, South America and even China. In the New World, Cabernet Sauvignon wines are more likely to be single varietal highlighting the grape’s own flavours. In these sunnier climes Cabernet is able to ripen fully, allowing its softer, fruitier side to emerge. Standout regions include Coonawarra in Australia for intense cassis flavoured wines and Napa Valley in California for dark cherry, structured examples.
Wine is a living, breathing product that is constantly changing. However, not all wines get better with age. If a wine is to improve as time goes on it needs high acidity and powerful tannins – both of which are hallmarks of a well made Cabernet Sauvignon. With time, Cabernet Sauvignon begins to take on deep, spicy plum flavours and succulent tannins, making it a fantastic wine for ageing if kept in the right conditions. We are starting to see London Cru’s 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon soften and develop - it acts as a great comparison to the younger 2014 Cabernet as they both hail from the same vineyard in Languedoc, France. When critic Victoria Moore re-tasted our 2013 Cabernet earlier this year she said that it had "improved immeasurably", saying "it has become more elegant with a bit of time in the bottle and has beautiful cassis and cedar notes, and smells of pencil shavings."
Cabernet Sauvignon is a food wine through and through. From deep, rich stews to punchy, tangy aged cheese, the big, bold flavours in Cabernet can stand up to hearty meals. The best food and wine pairings improve the flavours in both the food and the wine. As a harder and sharper cheese, cheddar can handle the tannins in Cabernet Sauvignon and the fruitiness of the wine perfectly complements the cheese’s flavour. Stews and pie fillings with melt in the mouth cuts of fatty beef work well too – the high tannins act as a palette cleanser and the bold flavours in both the wine and the food stand up to each other. Personally, we love drinking the London Cru Cabernet with a big juicy burger with plenty of oozing cheese and salty bacon. Delicious!