Cabernet Sauvignon - Regions - Bordeaux
Cabernet Sauvignon is closely associated with Bordeaux wine, but it is rarely used on its own and is often blended with other grape varieties. Bordeaux is considered the ancestral home of the grape, and winemakers around the world have made significant efforts to reproduce its robust structure and intricate character.
The first renowned Cabernet Sauvignon wines were made with a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. However, it should be noted that in Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon was initially blended with Syrah, a practice that is more widespread in Australia and certain regions of Languedoc.
The initial decision to blend Cabernet Sauvignon into Bordeaux wine was partly driven by economic considerations. Due to the unpredictable and volatile climate of the Little Ice Age, the region could not guarantee a profitable harvest every year. To protect themselves from this risk, wine producers needed to plant other grape varieties to diversify their crops.
Over time, it has become apparent that the unique characteristics of different grape varieties can enhance each other’s qualities and improve the overall quality of the wine. Cabernet Sauvignon, for example, contributes to the structure, acidity, tannins, and potential for long-term aging of the wine. When harvested before full maturity, this grape can provide fruity flavors to the wine, which can be balanced by adding the smooth and round flavors of Merlot.
When making wine with Cabernet Franc grapes, it is possible to include fruity aromas in the blend. In the less dense soils of Margaux, Cabernet-based wines can appear pale, but this can be remedied by blending them with Petit Verdot. Malbec, which is now mainly used in Fronsac, can contribute additional fruity and floral aromas.
According to DNA analysis, Cabernet Sauvignon is a hybrid of two Bordeaux grape varieties, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. This led experts to believe that the grape originated in Bordeaux. However, new research suggests that Cabernet Sauvignon was already widely cultivated in the French region of Médoc during the 13th century.
The Cabernet Sauvignon grape variety was well-equipped to resist rot in the humid and coastal climate conditions of Bordeaux due to its cluster type and thick skins. However, the grape’s popularity suffered a setback in 1852 with the appearance of powdery mildew, which highlighted its susceptibility to this disease.