Today we raise a glass to making mistakes, especially ones that result in the creation of world-renowned wines. The accidental yet iconic cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc in Bordeaux back in the 1600s resulted in the creation of the bold and sophisticated Cabernet Sauvignon grape.

Cabernet Sauvignon can be bottled as a single varietal, or blended with other grapes. The most well-known blend is a Bordeaux blend (also known as Meritage), which consists of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. A single varietal Cabernet Sauvignon is notably dry and full-bodied with medium to high acidity and tannins. The medium to high tannin levels are a result of the grape’s naturally thick skins, which contribute to the structure of the wine and its ability to age for ten years (or more). On the palate, look for notes of black cherry, currant, cedar, tobacco, plum, and spices. This taste profile, combined with high concentration, makes Cabernet Sauvignon the perfect wine to pair with roasted or grilled meats, peppery sauces and highly flavoured dishes. 

To understand where Cabernet Sauvignon grows today, take a look at this Wine Folly diagram from James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year, Madeline Puckette.

As you can see, France, Chile, and the United States are the top Cabernet Sauvignon producers. However, Cabernet Sauvignons from Napa Valley, California in the United States only became popular over the past 50 years. Prior to the 1976 private wine competition with France’s top wine critics, later titled the “Judgment of Paris”, French wines were considered superior. In this particular year, Napa Valley wines were entered into the competition and won, which automatically put Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons on the map. If you want to learn more about this monumental wine event, check out the Somm 3 documentary!

To find which region you prefer to get your Cabernet Sauvignon from, based on your palate, here is a brief breakdown of the taste profile for French, American, and Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon.

In Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon grows the best on gravelly soils, so keep an eye out for wines from the sub-regions of Médoc and Graves. Here, you find savoury and age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon with notes of plum, tobacco, and anise. But remember, you won’t find a lot of single varietals, but rather Bordeaux blends. 

For a single varietal, the United States, specifically Napa Valley, is the liquor store wine aisle for you. Napa Cabernet Sauvignons are known for their fruit quality, with ripe notes of black cherry, raspberry, blackberry and plum. Oak aging is common practice when creating Napa Cabernets which adds flavour compounds of smoke, clove, cedar, espresso, and tobacco to the wine. 

In the twentieth century, Chilean winemakers began to mirror French winemaking styles, and producing large quantities of fruit-forward, easy-sipping, inexpensive Merlot and Cabernets. Although this is still the case, in recent years there has been a boost in quality. Due to the warm climate in regions such as the Maipo Valley, Chilean Cabernet Sauvignons are notably full-bodied with flavours of cherry, black currant, fig and spices. 



This is a great example of a Bordeaux blend consisting of 50% Caberent Sauvignon, 45% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot from Chateau Olivier which is one of the oldest properties in Bordeaux. This vintage is “concentrated and complex with powerful tannins and a lively refreshing acidity”, and was given 95 points by Wine Enthusiast.


Stag’s Leap is a Napa Valley classic with grapes that have been planted since 1872. This 2018 vintage was awarded 95 points by James Suckling, which he described as “a very pretty cabernet with very fine tannins that are polished and fresh. Beautiful currant, chocolate and walnut character. Medium to full body and a long, caressing finish.”


This is a “rich, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon with fresh blackberry, red berries, fine herbs, anise and toasty oak spice, mint and meaty flavours on the palate.” The grapes for this wine were sourced from vineyards in the Pirque zone near the foot of the Andes in Alto Maipo, and it was awarded 94 points by the South American wine publication, Descorchados.