Cabernet Sauvignon is my favourite black grape and is a strong contender for best black grape in the world (as subjective as that is) along side Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo and Syrah.
Unlike the other candidates I have just mentioned, Cabernet is rarely seen as a varietal wine in its homeland (of Bordeaux), though in warm years it can reach over 80% of the best Pauillacs. Despite relying on support from Merlot and others, Cabernet became a symbol of top Bordeaux and so was eagerly planted in new world countries who wanted to emulate Bordelais wines. In the new world Cabernet is sometimes blended with other local specialities (Shiraz in Australia, Pinotage in South Africa, Malbec in Argentina) but also receives special attention in varietal wines.
The key advantage that these countries have is climate – Cabernet needs a lot of sunshine which is far from guaranteed n France’s Atlantic coast, but is more likely in the vineyards of the new world.
Here are a couple of everyday new world Cabernets from supermarket chain Lidl:
Cimarosa South African Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (14.0%, €6.49)
Perhaps the lion on the label makes this qualify as a “critter wine”, but I wouldn’t say that in front of the lion! As indicated by the label it is rich and fruity, but also has a slight (pleasant) earthiness to it. Tasted blind I might have guessed that this was a French Cabernet blend or even a Cape Blend – a South African red blend including local speciality Pinotage.
After all, even though South Africa is classed as a new world country when it comes to wine, some of its vineyards are very old and stylistically it is someway in between the old and new.
This Cabernet is nice and easy drinking on its own but I reckon would really shine with a beef or lamb stew.
Cimarosa Australian Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (13.5%, €6.69)
Moving east to Australia, this is another rich and fruity style according to the label, but is more recognisable as a varietal Cabernet with juicy blackcurrant and blackberry fruits. There’s a touch of vanilla here as well which really seals the deal for me.
South Eastern Australia is a huge region which enables wine producers to include grapes from South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales in the blend – but at this price it’s about the grape rather than a single vineyard, and it works well.
The food pairing suggestion on the back label is beef, though the fruit sweetness makes it a great mid week tipple on its own.
Decisions, decisions: these are both very good value for money and wines which I would happily recommend to try. As I tend to drink wine on its own more often than with a meal then the Aussie shades it for me.
Disclosure: both wines kindly provided for review