|Cabernet Sauvignon grapes|
on the vine
When it comes to characteristic flavours and smells, these can be somewhat challenging because certain of these sensations are common to a variety of grapes, or others are caused by the process of wine making (like aromas from wood barrels or age), and still others are caused or enhanced by the region the grape grows in. In the case of Cab Sauv, a certain green bell pepper sensation is considered characteristic, but can be present in a variety of ways. This character comes from both of Cab Sauv's parent grapes, as Cab Franc is often a 'greener' and more herbaceous tasting wine, whereas Sauvignon Blanc sometimes tastes distinctly like grass. These green aromas and tastes are caused by the presence of methoxypyrazine in the grapes, which is processed away as the grapes ripen. In Cab Sauv, the green flavour stays and really shows up if the grapes are grown in cool climates, whereas in warm climates there is no green pepper, but instead mintiness, or in very hot places, like parts of Australia and California, eucalyptus. In addition, Cab Sauv's typical tastes and smells include cherries, black currant, tobacco, graphite (like pencil shavings), dark earth, and black pepper. Sounds tasty!
Most of the wine we had last night was delicious. The instructor included a couple of lower-quality wines for comparison and educational purposes, but overall we had an excellent flight of wine deliciousness. My top two from the night were a wine from Pauillac, and a wine from Alexander Valley: