What is Cabernet Blended Wine?
Cabernet Blends are abundant in Australia. Cabernet Merlot wine, or to give it its full name Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot, is a classic blend of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot varietals. It is famed for being the combination of varietals used in wines from Bordeaux in France. Australia produces some excellent Bordeaux-style Cabernet Merlot wines. However, the primary focus in Australia is on Shiraz-led blends.
Cabernet Shiraz, at its peak, is Australian wine at its best. The Australian star varietals of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon combine to express the best of both wines in concert. This combination is off limits in France as strict wine making regulations prevent winemakers from combining Shiraz from the Rhône Valley with Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux.
The power of Cabernet allows winemakers to retain the familiarity of flavours in their wine while expressing their own winemaking ability by combining these other varietals prior to fermentation. Winemakers can also ferment the varietals individually and combine them later to achieve their own signature Cabernet blends.
Common Cabernet Blended Wine styles
Cabernet Merlot blends are produced across Australia at a variety of price points. Western Australia has great ability to make excellent blends of the grapes. Margaret River, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra and the Big Rivers Zone all produce varying examples to suit different budgets. These Cabernet blends show hallmark cassis, mocha and sweet spice aromatics and a palate with a supple texture, blueberry fruit and a long finish with dark chocolate tannins. Cabernet Merlot wines of pedigree tend to age very well due to their excellent structures.
A Cabernet Shiraz blend is a big red wine. Unlike Cabernet Sauvignon, which is very present up front and in the finish, Shiraz comes into its own on the mid-palate. The combination presents the wine lover with a journey through cassis and blackberry in the Cabernet to smoke and pepper in the Shiraz.
Pairing food with Cabernet Blended Wine
Focusing on the two big Cabernet blend combinations, Merlot and Shiraz, lamb is a perfect fit. For a roast shoulder lamb choose the Cabernet Merlot blend. For chargrilled or barbecue skewered lamb shish or cutlets open a bottle of Cabernet Shiraz to take advantage of blackened bits of meat. For something a good deal easier, a simple beef burger sizzling off the grill is the perfect foil to these big, bold Cabernet blends.
Notable Cabernet Blended Winemakers
In some circles the 1962 Penfolds Bin 60A, a Cabernet Shiraz blend, is considered the greatest wine Australia has yet produced. So great in fact that the second vintage, and the latest, was in 2004. Penfolds contribution to high-end Australian wine can’t really be understated. Some of the other big hitters in Australian wine are also producing great Cabernet blends including Yalumba, Peter Lehmann, Lindemans as well as Wolf Blass and Stonyfell.