A modern Australian classic

Cabernet Sauvignon has a long history in Australia dating back to the mid 1800s. It is not a particularly adaptable variety and it took time to find success; moderate climate regions were the answer.

Coonawarra and Margaret River are globally regarded as premier Cabernet Sauvignon producing regions.

Cabernet Sauvignon snapshot

  • Penfolds Block 42 vineyard in the Barossa was planted in 1885 and is thought to be to oldest surviving Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in Australia.  
  • Cabernet Sauvignon is successful in Australia as a standalone single varietal wine and as a dominant feature in classic blends. 
  • It is a variety that can age gracefully for decades and is a feature in many of Australia’s most historic and successful wines.

In the vineyard

  • Originating in the Gironde in south west France, Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Very old Cabernet Sauvignon vines exist in Langhorne Creek and Barossa.
  • Not a particularly adaptable variety. It prefers moderately warm climates – a mild maritime climate is ideal.     
  • Thrives on well drained soils – especially gravel based soils in Margaret River and classic terra rossa soils of Coonawarra.
Regions

Heat stress and drought stress affect Cabernet Sauvignon’s success. It does best in moderate climate regions such as Coonawarra and Margaret River.

Styles

Medium to full-bodied wines with firm, structured tannins. Regional expressions vary but Cabernet Sauvignon’s varietal character shines through no matter where it is grown.

Qualities

A wide range of qualities exist. Affordable, every day drinking wines through to some of Australia's most sought after, collectible fine wines.

24,682ha
Total plantings (2015)
Mid 1800s
First plantings

In the winery

Vinification techniques
  • Quite traditional vinification approaches
  • Pre-fermentation  cold maceration techniques are used  
  • Pump-overs and use of header boards common for colour, flavour and tannin extraction     
  • 1–3 week post-fermentation maceration depending on producer
Maturation
  • New French oak common for maturation
  • Long maturation in oak quite common for 12–24 months

Major regional expressions

Barossa Valley

  • Rich, ripe opulent wines
  • Performs best in the cooler sites and cooler vintages 
  • Sometimes blended with Shiraz
Read more on Barossa Valley

Coonawarra

  • Medium to full-bodied wines with concentrated flavours of blackcurrant, mulberry and plum
  • Typically firm tannins without being astringent or hard
  • Coonawarra Cabernet has the capacity to age gracefully for decades
Read more on Coonawarra

Langhorne Creek

  • Full-bodied rich flavourful wines with soft tannins and ripe black fruit flavours
  • Typically blended with Shiraz to make the signature red wine style of Langhorne Creek
Read more on Langhorne Creek

Margaret River

  • Medium to full-bodied wines with classic blackcurrant, cedar and violet characteristics
  • Often blended with Merlot
Read more on Margaret River

McLaren Vale

  • Full-bodied, rich wines with ripe berry and chocolate characteristics
  • Can be quite age worthy especially in cooler vintages 
Read more on McLaren Vale

In the glass

Style and character

Medium to full-bodied with strong varietal characteristics which shine through wherever it is grown.

Pairs with

Lamb, beef, darker game meats, braised red meat dishes, firm cheeses.

Typical flavours

Blackcurrant
Blackberry
Mulberry
Cedar

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