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We know that understanding wines can be tricky; there are lots of them and there can be big variations within a variety. If, like Ellie, a wine list baffles you, if you aren’t sure what a Chardonnay offers compared to a Sauvignon Blanc, or a Riesling to a Pinot Gris, or you just want to buff up your knowledge on your favourite type of wine, then have a read of the ‘Wine 101’ blog posts to learn with Ellie as she delves into the world of wine!
I thought I would have a look at a red in my second ‘Wine 101’ post. Classically flavoured like blackcurrants, Cabernet Sauvignon is seemingly one of the best loved grapes for producing red wine. With its heritage in seventeenth century France, where someone got lucky when crossing Cabernet Franc with Sauvignon Blanc, it can today be found all over the world. The grapes are thick skinned and are resistant to pesky insects and disease, which along with the bold flavours it can produce, make it a favourite for wine makers. It’s homeland is Medoc in Bordeaux, and it is in this terroir that it does well, as it is a late ripener. Terroir is a term used in wine to refer to the conditions under which the grapes are grown; the soil, climate and topography - to me as a geographer, the abiotic characteristics of the area.
Cabernet Sauvignon ages well, with the flavours such as cedar wood becoming more evident with age. Wines change with age, this we know, but why? Having tried to get my head around this, the reasons why this occurs seem a little too reminiscent of school chemistry, which I didn’t understand then, let alone now, so I will maybe save this for another post when I can get my head around it! But, in terms of flavour, aging makes the wine more mellow, softer and less fruity. However, it seems that unless the wine is a premium wine, there is little point in aging them beyond 5 years, although there seem to be many caveats to what, where, why and how you should age different wines.
As discussed with Chardonnay, the flavours of the wine will vary depending on the climate; cooler regions will give flavours of green peppers (along with the blackcurrants), where as warmer climates will have notes of cherry or even black olives. If you look to Australia for your Cabernet Sauvignon, you may also find tastes such as mint or the koala’s favourite, eucalyptus.
If you want to try out Cabernet Sauvignon, check out Vondeling Cabernet Sauvignon (2014) (£14.99) for a ‘pure’ wine made from 100% Cab Sauv. This wine would go really well with roast beef or a mushroom dish. It’s a wine that is very dear to us as it was served (in magnum form) at our wedding. For a blend, you could try Vondeling’s ‘Philosophie’ (2014) which has a gorgeous bottle. This comes in at a higher price of £62.00, but it is absolutely worth it for this delicious wine. Have a look at the information on this wine on the website to find out why this is so special. Or, you could try Ca Dei Frati Ronchedone (2014) (£29.99) for a blend from Italy.
Happy drinking - let me know what you think of them!