The Cabernet – Sangiovese blend represents a compelling fusion of Italian winemaking tradition and the innovative spirit of the 20th century. Originating in the picturesque vineyards of Tuscany, this combination marries the indigenous Sangiovese grape with Bordeaux varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, creating wines that have become iconic in the world of Italian winemaking.
Sangiovese, the heart and soul of many Italian wines, brings its distinctive black-cherry and wild-berry flavors to the blend. This grape variety is celebrated in revered wines like Brunello di Montalcino and the classic Chianti. On the other hand, Cabernet Sauvignon, a native of Bordeaux, found its way to Italy in the 19th century, particularly in Piedmont and Friuli-Venezia Giulia during the Napoleonic Wars. It played a crucial role in revitalizing vineyards ravaged by the phylloxera epidemic.
Cabernet – Sangiovese wines, often complemented by the inclusion of Merlot, showcase a delicate balance between Sangiovese’s fruit-forward charm and Cabernet Sauvignon’s structural power. The result is wines known for their vibrant acidity and robust tannins, which, when appropriately aged in oak barrels, can evolve gracefully over many years.
In the Tuscan region of Italy, these wines are produced predominantly as IGT/IGPs and have earned the illustrious title of “Super Tuscans.” However, it’s worth noting that these Bordeaux varieties weren’t initially accepted in Tuscany’s DOC and DOCG level wines. They were classified as Vino da Tavola, or table wine. This unconventional situation paved the way for the establishment of the IGT system, akin to France’s IGP category.
The turning point for this blend came in 1994 with the creation of the Bolgheri DOC, offering Cabernet – Sangiovese wines their first DOC recognition. This move marked a significant transformation in Italy’s winemaking landscape.
While Cabernet – Sangiovese has its roots in Italy, its appeal and success have transcended borders, making their way to vineyards in Australia and the United States. In California, this blend reigns supreme, and it has also found a home in regions like Texas, Arizona, and Washington.
The Cabernet – Sangiovese blend is not just a convergence of grape varieties; it’s a testament to the ever-evolving world of wine, where innovation and tradition come together to create wines that bridge the past and the future, delighting wine enthusiasts both in Italy and around the globe.