By Craig Locascio, CWE National Education Director
My Other Barrel is a Tank! - Unoaked Chardonnay on the Rise
Chardonnay wine grapes can be fermented and aged in any container that doesnt leak but the predominant vessels these days are oak barrels and stainless steel tanks. The winemakers choice of vessel determines the flavor profile of the finished wine. Stainless steel fermented and aged wines tend to express more
Cabernet Sauvignon along with Chardonnay have been the most marketed wines over the last half century which has been the main contributor to its popularity today, but it has long been know as a noble grape for many other justifiable reasons. Not only is the grape one of the most sturdy being fairly resistant to disease and spoilage, it also is adaptable to different growing regions.
Until recently Cabernet Sauvignon has been thought of as an ancient variety, but recent genetic testing has found that it is really a hybrid of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc.
There are many reasons for this among which makes the most dependable candidate for aging, more often improving into a truly great wine than any other single varietal. With age, its distinctive black currant aroma can develop bouquet nuances of cedar, violets, leather, or cigar box and its typically tannic edge may soften and smooth considerably.
Cabernet berries are small and spherical. They have a black, thick and very tough skin. It is this thick skin that adds strong tannins to the juice when pressed and accounts for the aging properties of Cabs. The grapes ripen in mid to late season creating a strong flavor appeal.
Cabernet grows best in moderately warm moderately arid areas which provide longer growing seasons. Some of the worlds best Cabs have been produced in Californias Alexander Valley, most of Napa Valley and some of the Central Coast area where there is also well drained soil and not-to-fertile soil.
Now that science has shown us that Cabernet Sauvignon is really a hybrid of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc a lot of the characteristics of the wine make much more sense then they did in the past. It seems like the best qualities of the parents have been passed on to the child. The typical cab will have a nose and flavor of Cab Francs best asset, black current, blackberry and black cherry. You should also find Savignon Blanc assets in the addition of bell pepper, green olives, asparagus, and the earthier compliments.
Wine makers have a great deal of influence on what the ultimate wine tastes like as cabernet can vary greatly with changes in climatic conditions, viticulture practices, and vinification techniques. These changes will create juice that that may be more vegetative and earthy, or have a less fruity characteristic in the resulting wine.
In the mouth a well-crafted Cabernet will have a richness and will often finish with astringency. 100% Cabernet can be on the tannic side so today they are often blended with a less tannic grape such as merlot or its parent Cabernet Franc which also adds to the nose and the fruitiness of the wine.
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