Cabernet Sauvignons Beyond the Napa Valley and Bordeaux

Cabernet Sauvignons Beyond the Napa Valley and Bordeaux

It is the world’s most popular red wine varietal, thanks no doubt to the Grand Crus of Bordeaux and to Napa Valley’s leading estates. But keep in mind that cabernet sauvignon is grown throughout the world, with numerous examples as good as anything from France or Napa. Below we mention seven different regions whose cabs and cab blends definitely deserve your attention.

Paso Robles

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Sun-kissed and blessed with hillsides, California’s Paso Robles AVA is an already exceptional site for cabernet vines. It’s also blessed with limestone soils, which are exceedingly rare throughout California and found in some of the world’s greatest vineyards. Limestone rich soils encourage a more efficient absorption of nutrients, yield berries whose skins are more resistant to rupturing, and more readily preserve freshness. Meaning not only pure, superripe wines but also vivaciously fresh wines. Like those from Daou and Vina Robles.


Washington State

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Say the Pacific Northwest and what likely springs to mind is a Seattle skyline plagued by overcast skies and sheets of rain - not the ideal setting for the vine. But you'll also find in Washington state a sunny, high elevation desert that rests within the eastern rain-shadow of the Cascade Range. What’s more, that high elevation desert sees more than 17 hours of sunlight (on average) during any given day of the growing season. That’s two more hours of sunshine than the Napa Valley average! The results are some killer Washington state cabs like those from L’Ecole or Quilceda Creek.


Bolgheri and Tuscan Coast

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It was the gravel that first caught the attention of pioneering Bolgheri and Tuscan Coast proprietors. After all, Bordeaux's Left Bank and Napa's alluvial benchlands are famous for their warm and well-drained gravel soils. Those proprietors had discovered that the Tuscan Coast also enjoyed: 1) maritime breezes that moderate the summer heat, and 2) the Apennines to the north that safeguard against rain clouds. The resulting climate yields cabernets as intense as a great Napa Valley cabernet and as poised as the best Left Bank reds. As the wines of Ornellaia prove.


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Like the Napa Valley, this narrow coastal country enjoys a Mediterranean climate. But Chile and its vineyards enjoy two more advantages: 1) the snow-capped Andes and their almost limitless source of water, and 2) the country’s mountains to the east and hillsides to the west, which keep rain clouds at bay  and the vineyards relatively dry and free of blight. All of this ensures ripe and healthy fruit, super pure flavors, and stunning wines. Which makes Chile a great source for flavorful and keenly priced cabs. As well as world class examples!


South Africa

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South African wine regions Stellenbosch and Paarl are excellent sources for top-notch bottles of cabernet sauvignon. Which might be a surprise for some. Lying at around 34° South, both regions should be too sunny and too warm to produce fine wines. But every summer day a south-easterly wind called the Cape Doctor comes up from the southern tip of Africa and cools the hillside vineyards of both Stellansoch and Paarl. The results are vibrant, aromatic, flavorful cabs and cab blends.

Margaret River, Australia

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Like Bordeaux, the Margaret River is blessed with gravel rich soils. Fortunately for Margaret River estates, Western Australia’s premier wine region enjoys two more distinct advantages. It sees: 1) little rainfall throughout the growing season, meaning little disease pressure; and 2) minimal diurnal swings in temperature, meaning even heat accumulation that favors the ripening of cabernet clusters. The results are world-class, turbo-charged cabs with superpure flavors.