Cabernet Sauvignon, or Cab Sav as it is more affectionately known, is one of the most popular and most planted grapes in the world. It is perhaps most famous for being the main varietal used in prestigious red blends from Bordeaux, France and is grown in every major wine-producing country, including all over Australia. The grape can be heavily influenced by soil and climate with each region having distinctive inflexions on the wine. Cab Sav is at its core robust with dark fruit characters (blackcurrant, cassis, mulberry), herbal, minty, and briary notes in younger wines and prevalence of cigar box, earth, and chocolate in both aroma and palate.
Here are our five favourite Australian regions for Cabernet Sauvignon.
In just 50 years, Margaret River has secured its place among the world’s top wine-producing regions. A big part of this is thanks to the quality of its Cabernet Sauvignon, which rival the best from Bordeaux in terms of power and finesse. Today, Margaret River makes 20% of Australia’s premium wines despite being just 3% of Australia’s total crush. Warm days and cool nights, produce wines with defined varietal characters and wonderfully balanced acidity. The Cabernets from this region have more fruit-forward flavours, so expect those dark berry fruits to shine through upfront.
One of these most notable regions for Cab Sav, thanks to its dusty red terra rossa soils over limestone bedrock. South Australia’s cigar-shaped Coonawarra produces Cabernet Sauvignon of distinction and refined structure and has therefore adopted it as its signature wine variety. The region enjoys a warm growing season, but cooling breezes make the region substantially cooler than expected. The region’s shining star Cabernet tends to be more powerful than Margaret River Cabernets, even with medium weight. So expect a full-bodied, deeply flavoured wine with more herbal and eucalyptus characters, and suggestions of mint.
Cabernet Sauvignon from Langhorne Creek tends to be generous in flavour, ripe in fruit profile and luscious in its expression of the region. Langhorne Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz is arguably the iconic blend of the region, however, Langhorne Creek Cab Sav also has a place produced as a single variety expression. The wines produced by Langhorne Creek wineries using Cabernet Sauvignon tend to be soft, silky, in the red berry spectrum with suggestions of mint, eucalyptus and green herbs.
Many of Australia’s finest Cab Sav blends come from the Yarra Valley. Wines from this region tend to be supple in texture with clean blackcurrant flavours backed by touches of olive and mint. In this region we see more of the herbal, spicy characters and though chocolatey there are hints of mint, eucalypt, and blueberries.
Clare Valley is one of the prettiest wine regions in Australia. Boasting natural and manmade beauty from its vineyards to the Bluestone buildings. The climate in the Clare Valley brings the heat during the day but that is countered by cooler nights. The ripe fruit from the warm days is given an essential balance of acidity when the sun goes down and the temperature drops. Cabernet Sauvignon does quite well in Clare Valley. Unlike Cabernet Sauvignons from warmer regions that can be overpowering, Cab Savs from the Clare Valley offers more balance and elegance.