In 1785, Seconat Montesquieu, a French philosopher, legal expert, historian and political thinker, described Cabernet Sauvignon as “the perfect grape”. He was struck by its qualities which are capable of expressing themselves uniquely in various environments.
It was the wine of the wealthy in Montesquieu’s day since the small bunches characterised the vine as a late-ripening variety but, above all, the marked presence of tannins required a long ageing process in barrels to develop. All of this turned into considerable investments and a good knowledge of winemaking techniques. However, Cabernet Sauvignon also gained its reputation as it was associated with the French nobility who prevalently cultivated the vine at their Châteaus.
Several factors have made Cabernet Sauvignon the most cultivated grape variety in the world. However, the most impactful factor is its superior ability to adapt to the most varied of climatic conditions and its predisposition to multiple winemaking techniques. Yet, what makes it special is the fact that it perfectly expresses the characteristics of the terroir where it is planted while also maintaining its identifying features, such as its strong vegetal aroma.
This makes Cabernet Sauvignon ideal for enhancing and emphasising the characteristics of a unique area by making wine from a single varietal, according to the full and comprehensive potential of the terroir.
The best terroirs for this grape variety feature an elevated clay content, well-drained soils or substrates that are less rich in clay, probably due to the lower sensitivity to drought. As Cabernet Sauvignon is a late variety, it requires a sunny climate even in autumn, at least at high altitudes.
Therefore, deep and well-drained soil with a guaranteed water supply ensures the excellent quality of Cabernet Sauvignon, since it allows for allows constant ripening and increased production constancy.
Rich, fertile and humid soils are better avoided. Such soils would affect the ripening of the berries and the lignification of the shoots, with significant implications on the colour, longevity and aromatic qualities of the wine.
From an oenological point of view, Cabernet Sauvignon has all the characteristics to make fantastic wines. The numerous awards bestowed over the years to numerous Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines are a testament to the fact, especially wines that best represent a globally unique terroir, that are best able to exalt the grape’s characteristics. Starting from its thick skin rich in colouring substances. This is one of the great qualities of Cabernet Sauvignon winemaking, namely the amount of time the skins are macerated. In fact, the prolonged contact of the Cabernet Sauvignon must with the skins creates wines with a polyphenolic charge and extreme potential. This potential is further enhanced by the ageing capacity of Cabernet Sauvignon in wooden barrels.
Its origin can be attributed to a cross between Cabernet Franc and the white grape Sauvignon. Among the countries of the New World, it finds its optimal location in California, particularly in Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley. Lastly, Australia in the Barossa Valley, an area which, due to its unique climatic conditions, renders the Cabernet Sauvignon very distinctive with its spicy tones. And in Italy? The elective homeland of Cabernet Sauvignon is Tuscany, where the “Supertuscan” phenomenon was established in the 1970s. After which, the grape variety has enjoyed widespread diffusion. Often used as a wine for blending, in recent times, it develops the maximum expression of an excellent terroir. From the north to the south of Italy, Cabernet Sauvignon is achieving very high-quality levels that are internationally recognised.