Grape Expectations: Cabernet Sauvignon

Looking back at the list of grape varieties I’ve covered in the year-and-a-bit I’ve been writing these articles, it seems astonishing that I’ve managed to miss this one out. Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely planted grape variety in the world. It has many, many accolades but it has not yet made it into an issue of Village Voices. Until now, that is.

Cabernet Sauvignon finds its home on the Left Bank of the Gironde River in Bordeaux. Such hallowed names as Margaux, Pauillac and Saint-Julien produce world-famous wines based on this grape – often at eye-watering prices. In Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon is blended with Merlot which softens its sometimes rather angular nature. These angles – high acidity, grippy tannins – can be unpleasant in youth but are what helps these wines to age for years and even decades in some cases.

As you might guess from its position as the world’s favourite, you can find Cabernet Sauvignon in just about any country that makes wine. Much of it, of course, is quite terrible – simply trading on a famous name. But examples from Australia’s Coonawarra or Margaret River, or South Africa’s Stellenbosch can be not only excellent value but really quite delicious. Napa Valley makes some real icon wines but stay away from these if you value your wallet!

Waterkloof Circumstance Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch 2018 –  Sourced from the top-class vineyards of the Waterkloof Estate, this is South African Cabernet with a punch. The blackcurrant flavours are ripe and succulent, and an element of spice adds complexity. Fine grained tannins and real concentration give this wine great ageing potential.