Cabernet Sauvignon is a proud French grape and the principal variety behind France's most famous red wine, Bordeaux. With its lacy, dark green leaf and tight bunches it's one of the more handsome vines in the vineyard. It has quite rightly been called the king of the red grapes. The hallmark aromas of a good cabernet - blackcurrant and cedar - are most definitely regal. It was the first varietal ever planted by Taylors and remains a key varietal to this day.
In mid-2000, we joined with fellow Clare Valley winemakers for a meeting at the classic Rising Sun Hotel and a historic decision was made. After a long night of conversation which centred on the shortcomings of the cork closure (and a few glasses of wine), the Clare Valley winemakers agreed to initiate what would be a game-changing move, to bottle the region’s iconic riesling under screwcap.
In 2004 we moved to seal all our wines under screwcap— the first major winery in Australia to do so. More than a decade on, screwcap closures now account for more than 90% of current vintage Australian wine.
Like all good grape varieties cabernet can travel and has adapted very well in countries and climates outside France. One of the last varieties in the vineyard to ripen, cabernet prefers a cool but not cold climate. It's not a difficult vine to grow and the small thick-skinned berries are quite resistant to disease. A fact not widely known is that cabernet has one of the highest pip to pulp ratios, which explains it's firm tannins and longevity. Good quality cabernet sauvignon benefits from ageing and can be cellared for up to 20 years in the right conditions.
The typical wine making recipe is a warm fermentation, pumping over or plunging skins before pressing and transferring to French oak barrels for 18 months maturation. Blackcurrant or cassis is the classic cabernet character and there can also be a little cedar and the notorious cigar box.
Where food matching is concerned, red meat is the obvious choice but it is lamb and cabernet that find the perfect match. The unique, piquant savour of lamb and the aristocratic aromatics in cabernet make for gastronomic harmony.