Cabernet: a special wine grape

I really don't know what has happened to Cabernet Sauvignon. There seems to be more than a bit of buyer reluctance to this glorious red wine, something that the Cabernet makers in California are getting a little jumpy at. Let me give you a bit of a background on this special grape before we delve into the current state of affairs;

So, by the late 1970s we had two camps of Cabernet lovers; those wishing the mondo-extracted Cabernets and those wishing for the sublime nuance driven Cabernet Sauvignon with that little hint of Merlot. As it turned out, those who put down (in the cellar) the California reds were bitterly upset as these extracted Cabernets aged poorly with fruit fading away and gobs of new oak dominating the wine. Those folks who aged the Bordeaux are still very pleased at the results and are drinking these gems thirty years later.

Today we are seeing, once again, powerhouse Cabernets coming from California and Washinton state with over the top alcohol levels and very extracted fruit. The prices are also, especially from the Napa Valley and Walla Walla, Washington going over the top with a new set of problems; buyers reluctance to purchase these types of wines and the market of good, inexpensive Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina, Chile and Australia. I think that the new market share of these south of the equator Cabernet Sauvignon could really shake up the California wine market very soon indeed.

The other looming problem with the overpriced and high alcohol Cabernets is the new market share of other, less filling and user friendly varietals such as Barbera and Sangiovese as well as the Malbec from Argentina. We are finding these wines to be very attractive, priced fairly, great press and getting superb market position in front of the eyes of the American consumer. More next week!

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