The Bordeaux wine region is intimately connected with Cabernet Sauvignon, even though wine is rarely made without the blended component of other grape varieties. It is the likely “birthplace” of the vine, and producers across the globe have invested heavily in trying to reproduce the structure and complexity of Bordeaux wines. While the “Bordeaux blend” of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet franc and Merlot created the earliest examples of acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon wine, Cabernet Sauvignon was first blended in Bordeaux with Syrah, a pairing that is widely seen in Australia and some vin de pays wines from the Languedoc. The decision to first start blending Cabernet Sauvignon was partly derived from financial necessity. The sometime temperamental and unpredictable climate of Bordeaux during the “Little Ice Age” did not guarantee a successful harvest every year; producers had to insure themselves against the risk of losing an entire vintage by planting a variety of grapes. Over time it was discovered that the unique characteristics of each grape variety can complement each other and enhance the overall quality of wine. As a base, or backbone of the wine, Cabernet Sauvignon added structure, acidity, tannins and aging potential. By itself, particularly when harvested at less than ideal ripeness, its can lack a sense of fruit or “fleshiness” on the palate which can be compensated from by adding the rounder flavors of Merlot. Cabernet franc can add additional aromas to the bouquet as well as more fruitiness. In the lighter soils of the Margaux region, Cabernet-based wines can lack color, which can be achieved by blending in Petit Verdot. Malbec, used today mostly in Fronsac[disambiguation needed ], can add additional fruit and floral aromas.
DNA evidence has shown Cabernet Sauvignon is the result of the crossing of two other Bordeaux grape varieties- Cabernet franc and Sauvignon blanc- which has led grapevine historians, or ampelographers, to believe that the grape originated in Bordeaux. Early records indicate that the grape was a popular planting in the Mdoc region during the 18th century. The loose berry clusters and thick skins of the grape provided a good resistance to rot in the sometimes wet maritime climate of Bordeaux. The grape continued to grow in popularity till the Powdery mildew epidemic of 1852 exposed Cabernet Sauvignon’s sensitivity to that grape disease. With vineyards severely ravaged or lost, many Bordeaux wine growers turned to Merlot, increasing its plantings to where it soon became the most widely-planted grape in Bordeaux. As the region’s winemakers started to better understand the area’s terroir and how the different grape varieties performed in different region, Cabernet Sauvignon increased in plantings all along the Left Bank region of the Gironde river in the Mdoc as well as Graves region, where it became the dominant variety in the wine blends. In the Right bank regions of Saint-milion and Pomerol, Cabernet is a distant third in plantings behind Merlot & Cabernet franc.
In the wine regions of the Left Bank, the Cabernet influence of the wine has shown unique characteristics in the different regions. In Saint-Estphe and Pessac-Lognan, the grape develops more mineral flavors. Aromas or violets are a characteristic of Margaux. Pauillac is noted by a strong lead pencil scent and Saint-Julien by cedar and cigar boxes. The Cabernet wines of the Moulis are characterized by their soft tannins and rich fruit flavors while the southern Graves region is characterized by strong black currant flavors, though in less intense wines over all. The percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon used in the blend will depend on terroir and the winemakers styles as well as the vintage. The First Growth estates of Ch”teau Mouton Rothschild and Ch”teau Latour are noted for regularly producing wines with some of the highest percentage of Cabernet- often around 75%.
A common factor affecting the flavors of Bordeaux wines is the harvest yields of Cabernet Sauvignon. Throughout Bordeaux there is a legal maximum permitted yield of 50 hectoliters (hl) per hectare (ha). With the aid of global warming and vigorous rootstocks, many Bordeaux vineyards can easily surpass 60 hl/ha, with some estates taking advantage of the legal loophole of plafond limite de classement (“ceiling limit classification”) that permits higher yields during “exceptional” years. This has had an adverse affect on the quality of production from some producers who regularly use grapes harvested at excessive yields. In recent years there has been more of an emphasis on keeping yields low, particularly for an estate’s Grand vin.
Other French regions
The Bordeaux wine region accounts for more than 60% of the Cabernet Sauvignon grown in France. Outside of Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon is found in varying quantities throughout Le Midi and in the Loire Valley. In general, Cabernet Sauvignon wines are lighter and less structured, drinkable much earlier than Bordeaux wine. In the southwest French appellation d’origine contrle (AOCs) of Bergerac and Buzet it is used to make ros wine. In some regions it is used to add flavor and structure to Carignan while it is blended with Ngrette in Gaillac and Fronton as well as Tannat in Madiran. In Provence, the grape had some presence in the region in the mid 19th century, when viticulturist Jules Guyot recommended it as a blending partner with Syrah. In recent years, several Midi wine estates, such as Mas de Daumas Gassac have received international acclaim for their Cabernet Sauvignon blended in Hrault, with Rhne grapes like Syrah. It is often made as a single varietal in the vin de pays of the Languedoc. The influence of Australian flying winemakers has been considerable in how Cabernet Sauvignon is treated by some Languedoc wine estates, with some producers making wines that can seem like they are from the New World. Overall, the grape has not exerted it dominance of the region, generally considered less ideally situated to the dry climate than Syrah. The Languedoc producers who give serious consideration to Cabernet Sauvignon, generally rely on irrigation to compensate for the climate.
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The Curtis Family Vineyards are established just west of the township of McLaren Vale. Its vineyards have flourished and now its sought-after McLaren Vale wines are available on the Australian and export markets.
The Curtis family imagrated from Italy in 1959, they purchased some land in McLaren vale and grew vines. The business flourished and they have been producing premium McLaren vale wine. the story of how everything old came new again…of how European immigrants came to Australia, struggled against the odds and then applied old world values and experience to produce fine wines.
New faces behind Curtis family vineyards are mark, Tom and Jenna . The name Curtis is thought to derive from Curtius, a noble and wealthy family of the First and Second Centuries AD, the Roman Empire era originating from the Latinium people.
Cervaro is where the Curtis family originated from. Situated 10km south of monte cassino. a town established by the Latinium tribe in Central Italy around the Second Century AD. Cervaro is situated approximately 10klms south of the monastery town of Monte Cassino, the site of some of the bitterest fighting between the Allied and German forces in Italy during World war II.
The Second World War took its toll upon the buildings used as a winery and barrel storage, but more destructive was the introduction of the Phylloxera grape vine louse, badly damaging the vineyards. Some were replanted and are harvested today. It was whilst the later replanting was taking place that the young Claudio Curtis first became involved in vineyards. While his parents tendered the newly growing vines, Claudio tried to help by removing the growing shoots. The Curtis Family have been growning grapes and making wine in McLaren Vale since 1973.
Today the Curtis Family are concentrating on developing complex premium wines for the Australian market. Premium wines that show the Curtis Family passion for great McLaren Vale Wines.
—The Curtis Family