Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely-grown grape in the New World And wherever it is grown, it manages to turn out very tasty red wines.
Excluding the ‘Old World’ vineyards of France and Italy, the largest plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon are in Chile, the US, Australia, South Africa and Argentina – in that order.
When it comes to easy, fruity drinkability at an affordable price, California Cabernet Sauvignon is hard to bypass. To be labeled ‘California’, regulations require 100 per cent of the grapes to be grown in the state; to be labeled ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’ – or any other specific wine grape – similar regulations require at least 75 per cent of the grapes to be of that variety.
Beringer is a well known California wine producer making a wide range of wines of styles and price-points. Beringer’s everyday wines are transitioning into their own new label: Beringer Main & Vine. Almost there with the 2015 vintage, Beringer California Cabernet Sauvignon (90225) $10.99 flaunts juicy cherry-berry fruit aromas and flavours with a swish of vanilla and candied plums in the finish.
The bulk of Chile’s most affordable Cabernet Sauvignons are grown in the Maule and Maipo regions of the Central Valley. These entry-level wines are often blends – they rarely mention individual vineyards in specific regions. They can, however, be very satisfying and ‘technically correct’ Cabernets.
Named ‘Winery of the Year’ by Wines of Chile in 2015, Vinedas Emiliana S.A. is committed to sustainability, growing grapes without pesticides. It is currently the world’s largest organic winery, with more than 800 hectares of certified organic vineyards producing 580,000 cases of organic wines exported to more than 60 countries.
A blend of 85 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon and 15 per cent Syrah, Emiliana Eco Balance Cabernet Sauvignon (918169) $11.99 is fresh and fruity – full of the aromas and flavours of black cherries, plums and blackberries. Built for immediate enjoyment, this is a red wine that doesn’t need to be cellared.
‘Mancura’ means ‘Guard of the Andes’ and is a tribute to the magnificent mythical Condor of the Andes, that protects the earth from the imposing Andean skies, drags the sun from the darkness of night every morning and safeguards the Chilean grape harvest.
From Chile’s Valle Central, Mancura Etnia Cabernet Sauvignon (302372) $12.99 offers up blackberry aromas and flavours with hints of new leather and cappuccino. Soft and fruity, this is an approachable red that sips well solo but could pair well with any pasta or meat dishes.
Don Maximiano Errázuriz founded Viña Errázuriz in 1870 in the Aconcagua Valley, 60 miles north Santiago. Recognizing that this valley, with its cool, rainy winters, hot, dry summers and cool Pacific Ocean breezes, was ideal for growing grapes, Don Maximiano sent for the finest clones from France and with tenacity and perseverance transformed this barren land into a world-class vineyard. Today’s Max Reserva wines are all tributes to his foresight.
From that same Aconcagua Valley, Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon (287805) $18.49 is a full throttle Cabernet that would benefit from an hour in a decanter or a year or two in the cellar. Measured amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot add depth and complexity. Blue and black berry fruit aromas and flavours are framed by spicy, peppery tannins. Mid-sip, the minty green and red pepper notes emerge, then woodsy cedar sliding into a wisp of dark chocolate and coffee in the finish.
And then – of course – there’s always California! Not all great California Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the Napa or Sonoma Valleys. Care and attention can produce tantalizingly tasty wine from the warmer and more southern Paso Robles region.
With Syrah and Zinfandel in the corral, Purple Cowboy ‘Trail Boss’ Cabernet Sauvignon (196873) $21.25 – from the Cowboy wine country on California’s Central Coast – is a rich and supple red with aromas and flavours of ripe plum, black cherry and cassis accented by twists of cola and vanilla.
It is tough to find an Australian Cabernet that could be more beautifully Barossa and true to the variety’s heritage downunder than Langmeil Blacksmith Cabernet Sauvignon (564468) $32.90. Seductive aromas of blueberries, blackcurrants, mint and black olives slide seamlessly into flavours that echo the aromatics with a hint of mint and a medley of ripe plum, blackberry and blackcurrant flavours.
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