Grape Varieties of Argentina
One of the classic grapes of red Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon is a grape to be reckoned with. A small, robust, thick and dark-skinned grape, it imparts considerable tannins, body, and colour to its wines. As a result, varietal Cabernet Sauvignons tend to be fairly 'big' – mouth-filling, acidic, tannic, dense.
With these strong structural elements, Cabernet Sauvignons generally age well – in fact, they usually need a good many months in oak followed by bottle time to allow the acids and tannins to soften to the point where the wine is at its optimum balance.
Aromas and flavours most often ascribed to Cabernet Sauvignon are black fruit – blackberries, blackcurrants (also known as cassis) – though red fruit such as strawberries and redcurrants are sometimes noted. Black pepper spiciness, and herbaceous notes such as mint and liquorice are also often associated with this grape's presence.
Cabernet Sauvignon fares best in warmer climates, and benefits from a long ripening season. In Argentina Cabernet Sauvignon is usually picked towards the end of the harvest, in late March.
Sometimes, particularly when growing seasons have not been optimal, Cabernet Sauvignon can be austere – lacking rich fruit flavours, and therefore dominated by its acidity and tannins.
This is principal reason that Cabernet Sauvignon is often blended with Cabernet Franc, Syrah and/or Merlot to 'round out' the wine and soften its sometimes harsh tannic edges. In Argentina, it is often blended with Malbec. But, at its best, unblended varietal Cabernet Sauvignon is considered by many aficionados to be the ultimate in red wine.
Interestingly, it has been recently shown by genetic testing that this king of red grapes is actually a hybrid between Cabernet Franc and the white grape Sauvignon Blanc.