Cabernet Sauvignon - The flavor of green pepper
The flavor of Cabernet Sauvignon is influenced by viticulture and climate, and some aromatic notes are particularly associated with these factors. A well-known flavor is herbaceous or green pepper, caused by pyrazines. These compounds are found in greater quantities in grapes that are not fully ripe.
All Cabernet Sauvignon grapes contain pyrazine compounds that deplete with sun exposure as the grape ripens. The human tongue can detect pyrazine levels of up to 2 nanograms per liter in wines. Pyrazine levels increase to 30 ng/l during veraison, which marks the beginning of complete grape ripening.
Cabernet Sauvignon grapes have difficulty fully ripening in cooler climates, resulting in the presence of pyrazine, which gives the wine a green pepper flavor. Although this flavor is not a wine defect, many consumers may not prefer it. The Monterey wine region in California became famous in the late 20th century for producing Cabernet Sauvignon with a strong green pepper flavor, earning it the nickname “Monterey veggies.”
In addition to its low temperature, Monterey is characterized by strong winds that can cause vines to bend and make ripening difficult for certain grape varieties.
Cabernet Sauvignon wine can also have a mint or eucalyptus flavor. The mint flavor is usually related to cool but warm enough wine regions to reduce pyrazine levels, such as the Coonawarra region in Australia and some parts of the state of Washington.
There is a belief that the soil in the Pauillac region contributes to the appearance of menthol flavors in some wines, while similar regions in Margaux do not have this characteristic. In areas where eucalyptus grows, such as the Napa and Sonoma valleys in California and parts of Australia, there is a tendency for eucalyptus resin flavors to be present in wine. However, there is no conclusive evidence to demonstrate a direct relationship between proximity to eucalyptus and the presence of this flavor in wine.