Cheers to the well-travelled Cabernet Sauvignon grape

James Viner uncorks five delicious bottles of one of the world’s most recognisable red wine varieties…


This week I celebrate Cabernet Day on September 7 by raising a glass to five wonderful examples of this deeply coloured, classic black grape variety. Late-ripening, warmth-loving, small, thick blue-skinned Cabernet Sauvignon (CS) has plenty of colour, tannin and flavour and is responsible for some of the world’s most storied, long-lived, firmly-structured, barrel-aged clarets.


1  2019 Viña Errázuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Aconcagua Valley, Chile (£9.99 offer, down from £12.99,

With 12 months ageing in French oak (30 per cent new), this top-drawer Aconcagua Valley Chilean CS — topped up with a dab of Petit Verdot and Syrah — is all spicy red and black fruit pizzazz, with underlying notes of liquorice and dark chocolate. It’s juicy, it’s silky, it’s swish and it’s convincing. One for autumnal roasted red meats and casseroles. Considerable length and subtle complexity, too. Kudos! Nab it on the brilliant discounted (save £3) September price.


2  2020 Rustenberg Wines, John X Merriman Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch, South Africa (£16.99, Majestic,

Another tastebud-tingling, barrel-aged (20 months) cracker from the Barlow family cellars near Stellenbosch, with masses of rich, spicy, bramble, mint, leather, briar and cigar box-scented oomph. Flickering acidity drives things along nicely and sapid, fine, powdery tannin lends support; the finish streams with spice and crème de cassis. Luscious, stylish and bang on for roasts. Mainly CS (46 per cent) with Merlot (36 per cent), plus a little Petit Verdot and Malbec.


3  2021 The Society’s Exhibition Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon by Vasse Felix, Western Australia (£17, The Wine Society,

This refined Aussie CS is from the Wine Society’s top own-label ‘Exhibition’ range. It was made by Virginia Willcock, the head winemaker at Margaret River’s founding, on song winery, Vasse Felix. Think bay leaves and concentrated red and blackberry fruit, with a smidgeon of peppercorn, red liquorice and ground star anise. The fruit is ripe and rippling, the tannins fine, willowy and fully in cahoots, running together to unfurl across the palate and soar through the lengthy finish. It’s a youthful ripper.


4  2015 Château Beau-Site, St-Estèphe, Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux, France (£23.50, Co-op,

Classy, mellow, aged, St-Estèphe claret, mostly CS (73 per cent) plumped up with Merlot (22 per cent) and a smidgeon of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, crammed with developed, textbook, lead pencil and cedary blackcurrant fruit. One for venison casserole or grainy Comté. Buy it!


5  2018 Seven Hills Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, Washington, USA (£42.95, The Online Wine Tasting Club,

Washington is the USA’s second-largest wine-producing state but most of its 1050-plus wineries have tiny production. CS (followed by Chardonnay) is the leading grape, capable of creating rich, powerful, balanced, age-worthy wines with depth and structure. Located in the far south-eastern corner of the state, very near Oregon, Seven Hills is one of the exciting cross-border Walla Walla AVA’s founding wineries and is famed for making Bordeaux blends that age beautifully. Here textbook cassis, bay leaf, dark chocolate, cedar and black tea, plus a rocky minerality and light herbal, baking spice and vanilla bean notes have the sparkle and concentration of a very fine CS which you could drink tonight or in 8-10 years. A gorgeous rendition.


Follow James on Twitter @QuixoticWine

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