What is Cabernet Sauvignon? Cabernet 101

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Cabernet Sauvignon, known as the king of red wine grapes, is a hugely popular grape, and the source of approximately 90,000 acres of California vineyards. But what is Cabernet Sauvignon? Since an estimated 80% of California Cabernet Sauvignon grapes come from our Concannon Clones and Cab is the top selling red wine, we felt it important to dive into the varietal, its history, flavor descriptors, pairing recommendations, and more.

Don’t forget to celebrate International Cabernet Sauvignon Day (the Thursday before Labor Day each year) on August 30th, 2018 by raising a glass and toasting the varietal!

The Mother Vine vineyard at Concannon Vineyard in Livermore California

What is the history of Cabernet Sauvignon?

Since the Cabernet grape dates back centuries, there is not a defined story to the grape or how it came to exist. What we do know is that the Cabernet Sauvignon grape comes from a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. It is believed that this crossing took place in the Bordeaux region of France in the 17th century. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that the Cabernet grape’s parents were discovered by Dr. Carole Meredith of UC Davis. Dr. Meredith and her team used DNA typing to analyze the DNA profile of the grape and find its parentage.

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes on a vine

Where is most Cabernet Sauvignon grown?

The top regions where Cabernet is planted (by acreage) are France, the U.S., and Australia. Since the grape is known as a tougher grape that can survive harsh conditions, it thrives in most any location, making it a wonderful grape choice for vintners, and a popular varietal and blending wine for winemakers. With that said, certain regions are known for Cabernet, particularly the famous Bordeaux region of France.

When our founder, James Concannon, found his way to the Livermore Valley, he knew that it was an opportune planting region for Cabernet due to its warm days, cool nights, and undeniable similarities to Bordeaux. After discovering the richness of Livermore Valley terroir, James imported Cabernet Sauvignon vines from Chateau Margaux, a prestigious wine estate in Bordeaux, to start a vineyard of his own. James was a maverick who was not only one of the first winemakers in the state to bottle Bordeaux-style wines, but who also paved the way for the future of California Cabernet Sauvignon. James’s trailblazing spirit and Concannon Vineyard’s historical winemaking leadership in the state of California is why four out of every five bottles of California Cabernet Sauvignon comes from clones of our Cabernet vines.

Cabernet Sauvignon grape vines at Concannon Vineyard in Livermore California

What does Cabernet Sauvignon taste like?

Cabernets are tannic red wines known for their high-alcohol content, moderate acidity, and bold flavors. They are often described as fruity, herbaceous wines with moderate to strong structure. Common tasting notes of a Cabernet are:

  • Dark fruit flavors such as cherries, currants, plums, blueberries, and blackberries

  • Earthy flavors such as black pepper, black tea, and sage

  • Aging flavors such as cedar, tobacco, leather, mocha, espresso, licorice, and vanilla

What pairs well with Cabernet Sauvignon?

Since Cabernet Sauvignon is a bold red wine, it pairs well with a big, bold meal like steak au poivre, garlic chicken wings, or blue cheese burgers. When choosing what to pair with a Cabernet, opt for foods with stronger flavors and fattier composition. Pairing a bold red wine with a rich dish heightens your sense of umami and adds a special something to both the meal and the wine.

Concannon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon with two wine glasses

Concannon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Wines

Find Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon at a retailer near you.

Cabernet Sauvignon grape vines at Concannon Vineyard in Livermore California
August 14, 2018
Concannon Vineyard Concannon Vineyard, Livermore, CA

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