Cabernet Sauvignon is the noble, wild child of Franc and Blanc. These thick skinned, inky little grapes, have tannin for days, and structure for decades. Suave with dark blackcurrant pastille fruit, graphite and leafy fern, they needn’t be bruising. The best are majestic, threading structure, depth and a luscious overlay of fruit. Further accents of depth come from ageing in substantial proportions of new oak barrels, giving notes of cocoa, tobacco, coffee and cedar.
In Australia, Coonawarra and Margaret River are centrepieces. But Yarra Valley, Western Vic and the Limestone Coast clip at these heels.
You may know it coined as Claret by older folk, borne of the English love for wines from Bordeaux. This revered French region is driven by the Médoc’s classy gravelled Main Street of St Èstephe, Pauillac, St Julien and Margaux. Southern satellites of Graves also offer exceptional quality. Both on this left bank and across the river, it’s allied with fleshy fruited merlot, a supporting actor in varying percentages.
Cabernet too is the grape that soups up a Super Tuscan sangiovese and gives brawny structure to South Aussie ‘shiraz-cab’ blends.
At either end of the Americas, look to Napa Valley and Chile for the best renditions.
Roast rack of lamb with herby potatoes and all the trimmings. Or just a simple pot roast of veal, vegetables and mayonnaise.