Not long ago when I ordered wine delivery from a local supermarket (not Bottle Barn, of course) my requested bottle of Sauvignon Blanc came to my door as a Cabernet Sauvignon. Obviously, some basic wine education is in order at that establishment, or was the delivery of wine from the same family somehow appropriate?
Where Does Cabernet Sauvignon Come From?
Cabernet Sauvignon, a red wine, is made from the eponymous grape, which is the most widely planted variety worldwide. It originated in Bordeaux region during the 17th century. It’s often referred to simply as “Cab.” Sauvignon Blanc is an older varietal, white in color, producing a white wine that is also extremely popular throughout the globe. “Cab,” however, could also refer to Cabernet Franc, a red wine made from red grapes, often used in blending, though there are great Cab Franc varietal wines too. They all come from the same French region, arguably the world capital of wine.
Cabernet Sauvignon, it turns out from genetic testing, is a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. All three originally came from France, and all three are permitted varieties in Bordeaux.
Cabernet Sauvignon Tasting Notes
Somehow Cabernet Sauvignon came out producing relatively tannic, robust red wines, with lots of complexity and potential for ageing (if that’s how they’re made). The wine is almost always dry, full bodied, with medium to high tannins, and medium acidity, which can provide for a perfect balance of factors. It can be high in alcohol, average 13.5 to 15% ABV.
The parents Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, however, do not produce heavy, always full bodied, tannic wines, and are best consumed when fairly young.
Five Great Cabernet and Sauvignon Wines at Bottle Barn
All three are highly adaptable and relatively easy to grow, and it could be fun to host a wine dinner where all three are served. Cabernet Franc features less tannins than Cab Sauvignon, but still maintains balanced acidity and a savory quality, with elements of green bell pepper and spices alongside mellow red, purple, and black fruit flavors. It boasts floral and herbal aromas rather than smoke, spice, and tar of Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2017 Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet Franc, for example, has aromas of plums and blackberries with an notes of sandalwood, camphor, lavender and bay leaves. 100% of the fruit came from the famed To Kalon Vineyard. James Suckling says drink it now or hold it for a few years (or both).
There are too many Cabernet Sauvignon wines to choose from, but one classic example from California is the 2017 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon from the Rutherford appellation in the Napa Valley. Suckling says it boasts aromas of “currants, blackberries and violets” with “a medium body and firm, tight tannins that give it length and structure.” Typical for these wines that open up substantially after ageing, its recommended to consume it after 2022. Another great choice is the 2018 Pedroncelli Wisdom Dry Creek Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, a certified California Sustainable Vineyard and Winery. This is certainly full bodied, with a dark purple color. Once in the glass, you will find aromas of blackberry, baking spices, and notable oak. Flavors include boysenberry and black plum, with hints of mocha and dried herbs. By now it has well rounded tannins but preserves medium acidity, lending the wine its structure.
Sauvignon Blanc makes a nice aperitif as well as consumed with appetizers. A wine from France’s Sancerre appellation in the Loire Valley is perfect! Consider the 2020 Francois Cotat Cul de Beaujeu Sancerre, which is made from 100% organically-grown grapes. It entices you with aromas of apricots, peaches, citrus, and wildflowers. On the palate there is poached pear, candied quince and a suggestion of anise. A very different Sauvignon Blanc to try is the 2021 Dog Point Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc with its pale straw color. On the nose come up-front peach, jasmine, and honeysuckle notes, followed by core flavors of melon, apricot, and lemon curd. On the finish note the candied ginger and marmalade flavors, with the vibrant acidity so typical of Marlborough wines.
All Bottle Barn wines are available for delivery across the USA, and we won’t give you a Cab Sauv when you order a Sauv Blanc, promise!
By Charlie Leary