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Cabernet Sauvignon

About Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is the world’s foremost red wine-grape variety. Though widely cultivated throughout the world, it is most commonly associated with the red wines of Bordeaux.

In the vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are small, thick-skinned and decidedly blue-colored, with a high pip-to-pulp ratio. Its thick skin results in wines of profoundly deep color, and the pips add a high level of tannin.

It ripens late, which is advantageous in warmer climates like Bordeaux, France and California. In colder growing environments, Cabernet Sauvignon can easily fail to ripen properly. Unripe Cabernet Sauvignon shows a lot of the aromas similar to unripe Cabernet Franc, notably a green or herbaceous character. This may not be entirely surprising, as Cabernet Sauvignon’s parents are Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.

Cabernet Sauvignon’s flavors can vary from region to another. Cabernet Sauvignon produced in Bordeaux’s Margaux appellation varies considerably from one grown farther north in Pauillac, for example. The best Cabernet Sauvignon wines tend to have deep color, good structure and a full body. They are tannic in youth, especially when aged in oak, and often require a few years to soften before they become enjoyable to drink. Typical flavors may include black fruits like blackcurrant or blackberry, as well as fragrant cigar box, tobacco and coffee.


Cabernet Sauvignon is at home in Bordeaux, where it is the key red variety in the Left Bank regions of the Médoc and Pessac-Léognan. Here, it is the main component in Bordeaux-style red blends, with smaller additions of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The top wines of the Médoc are from Margaux, Saint-Julien, Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe, and are arguably the greatest expressions of the grape. These are deep-colored reds with very high tannin and the capacity to age for decades.


The other region that competes with Bordeaux on Cabernet Sauvignon is California, and particularly Napa Valley, where Cabernet Sauvignon has become ubiquitous. The region is famous for its Bordeaux-style red blends and cult Cabernets, whose prices can often meet and exceed the first growths of Bordeaux. Other North American regions that produce quality Cabernet Sauvignon include Washington State and British Columbia in Canada.

Global Production

Elsewhere, Cabernet Sauvignon is cultivated to a greater or lesser extent in virtually all wine-growing regions. High-quality wines are produced in Bolgheri, Italy and Australia, notably Margaret River and Coonawarra. Cabernet Sauvignon is permitted in some Spanish red wine regions, including Rioja and Ribera del Duero. There are considerable plantings and good quality in Chile, Argentina and South Africa. Explore hundreds of popular and unique Cabernet Sauvignon wines with our Buying Guide. Our expert tasters rate and review thousands of options to make it easy to select a wine you’ll enjoy.

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