Inspired by one of VinePair’s most popular site sections, the Wine 101 podcast takes an educational, easy-to-digest look into the world of wine. This episode of Wine 101 is sponsored by Louis M. Martini Winery. For more than 85 years, Louis M. Martini Winery has crafted world-class Cabernet Sauvignon from exceptional vineyards of Napa and Sonoma Counties. Our founder believed in a simple, honest premise: The best grapes make the best wine. Today, his legacy of ingenuity, endurance, and passion continue at our historic winery in Napa Valley, with an acclaimed collection of Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Louis M. Martini: Craft your legacy.
Welcome back to Wine 101. In this week’s episode, VinePair tastings director Keith Beavers discusses the most planted grape varietal in the world: Cabernet Sauvignon. For a long time in the U.S., drinkers most often associated red wine with Cabernet Sauvignon. Unlike other wines such as Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon is often blended with other varieties. Despite this, the grape retains its distinctive, structured character: A deeper hue from its blue-colored berries, higher amounts of phenolic material, and more tannin structure. Cabernet Sauvignon ages well over a long period of time in French oak barrels, and also evolves year-to-year in the bottle.
The grape was born in the Bordeaux region of France, and it is theorized that the variety didn’t exist before the 18th century. Cabernet Sauvignon is the progeny of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes that crossed and produced the new varietal. In the 1800s, the grape made its way into Tuscany — and outside Europe, Cabernet Sauvignon was being grown in Chile and California. In 1976, in the same competition discussed in last week’s Chardonnay episode, a California Cabernet Sauvignon won out over a Bordeaux Cab, skyrocketing the popularity of the California wine. By 2013, there were 80,000 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards throughout the state. Today, a majority of Cabernet Sauvignon on the market in the U.S. comes from California.