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Exploring Contrasts: California vs. South African Cabernet Sauvignon

When it comes to Cabernet Sauvignon, (let's be honest we call it Cab Sav, or Cab), these two regions, California and South Africa, stand out for their exceptional expressions of the varietal. While both offer remarkable wines from this noble grape, they diverge significantly in terms of terroir, winemaking techniques, and flavor profiles. So let's wait no longer and delve right into the intriguing contrasts between Californian and South African Cabernet Sauvignon.

California and South African -Cabernet Sauvignon

Terroir Tales:

California Terroir: Cabernet Sauvignon thrives in diverse terroirs, from the volcanic soils of Napa Valley to the coastal breezes of Sonoma. This terroir diversity imparts rich fruit flavors and structured tannins to California cabs, with Napa Valley renowned for its ripe fruit and bold tannic structure.

South African Terroir: On the other side of the globe, South African Cab Sav's emerge from regions like Stellenbosch and Paarl, where soils range from granite to sandstone. South Africa's varied terroir yields wines with a unique balance of ripe fruit and savory notes, reflecting the country's diverse climates and soil compositions.

Climatic Contrasts:

California Climate: California's Mediterranean climate basks Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in sunshine by day and cools them with evening breezes. This climate fosters full ripening while preserving acidity, resulting in bold fruit flavors and ripe tannins characteristic of California Cabernets.

South African Climate: In South Africa, the climate ranges from Mediterranean to maritime, offering cooler conditions in coastal areas and warmer temperatures inland. This climatic diversity allows for a spectrum of Cabernet Sauvignon styles, from fruit-forward and approachable to more structured and age-worthy wines. Which in turn, makes it easy to find well balanced and defined Bordeaux style blends.

Winemaking Wonders:

Californian Techniques: Californian winemakers are known for their skilled use of oak aging, employing both American and French oak barrels to impart flavors of vanilla and spice. The influence of oak adds complexity, often complementing the wine's ripe fruit characteristics.

South African Practices: In South Africa, winemakers also utilize oak aging, typically favoring French oak for its subtler influence on the wine. However, South African Cabernets tend to showcase a more restrained use of oak, allowing the fruit and terroir to shine through with minimal intervention.

Californian and South African Cabernet Sauvignon

Flavorful Contrasts:

Californian Flavors: delight with opulent flavors of blackcurrant, black cherry, and plum, often accompanied by notes of vanilla and cocoa from oak aging. Ripe fruit and structured tannins define the bold character of Cali Cabernets. In our opinion, most of the Cabs we've tasted are more jammy in comparison to the South African.

South African Flavors: reveal similar fruit flavors but with an added herbal or savory dimension, such as bell pepper or tobacco. These savory notes contribute to the complexity of South African Cabernets, reflecting the influence of the region's terroir and climate.

To Conclude our Exploration of

Californian and South African Cabernet Sauvignon

While California and South African Cabernet Sauvignon wines share a common heritage, they offer distinct expressions shaped by their unique terroirs, climates, and winemaking traditions. Exploring the contrasts between these two regions provides a captivating journey, showcasing the diversity and complexity of this iconic grape variety.


Start Your Exploration & Try One of Our South African Cabs

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