Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Blends Washington State
A grape varietal which certainly requires no introduction, Cabernet Sauvignon is not only the principal component of the great Bordeaux wines, but also reigns as the grape varietal most widely known for putting the U.S. on the wine making map. It is grown prolifically throughout America, perhaps at its best in Napa, Sonoma and Washington. Even though in this country we see many 100% varietally based wines, Cabernet Sauvignon is usually blended to add complexity and to round out the often tough-to-handle tannins which are characteristic of this wine. It should be full-bodied, rich, firmly structures and powerful. It is reserved in the bouquet, yet the tell-tale black currant, dark berry, cedar and vanilla (from oak barrels) often show themselves. When grown in a cool climate, it can smell of green pepper or olives, but beware of unripe fruit that can be weedy or even vegetal. Some of its popular grape blending companions include Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.
Since it began in the 1820s, wine-production in Washington state has gone from strength to strength, with many of the finest United States wines coming out over the past twenty years hailing from this region. Today, the state is the second largest US producer of wines, behind California, with over forty thousand acres under vine. The state itself is split into two distinct wine regions, separated by the Cascade Range, which casts an important rain shadow over much of the area. As such, the vast majority of vines are grown and cultivated in the dry, arid desert-like area in the eastern half of the state, with the western half producing less than one percent of the state's wines where it is considerably wetter. Washington state is famed for producing many of the most accessible wines of the country, with Merlot and Chardonnay varietal grapes leading the way, and much experimentation with other varietals characterizing the state's produce in the twenty-first century.