Cabernet Sauvignon, France

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most famous and widely planted red grape varieties in the world. It is immensely popular in Australia, where world-class wines are made in Coonawarra, Margaret River and the Yarra Valley. Each region has a distinctive character, but all tend to be more fruit-forward than those from France. Coonawarra has a distinct mint or Eucalypt aroma, Margaret River has a more tomato leaf character, while Yarra Valley is more elegant in style.

Its original home is Bordeaux, where it is the dominant grape on the left bank, Medoc and Graves. In Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon tends to be blended with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and with small amounts of Malbec and Petit Verdot. In the New World, it is both blended and made as a straight varietal. Excellent wines are also produced in the Napa Valley and Chile's Maipo Valley. The grapes are thick-skinned providing the characteristic high tannins and deep colour. The Cabernet Sauvignon wines tend to show fragrant cassis, herbaceous, full-bodied with high acid.
Wine is being produced throughout France and has been done for over 2,500 years with certain Châteaux dating their history back to Roman times, around 6th Century BC. Ranking second in the world in per-capita consumption and first in total production quantity. More-so than the overall quantity of wine is the quantity of truly great wines coming out of France makes the nation the envy of wine-making nations worldwide.

Two concepts pivotal to the higher end French wines, in particular, are the idea of 'terroir' and the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system. Terroir refers to the way the geography, geology and climate find their way into the glass, telling a story of the origin of the wine. The AOC was set up in 1935 and has the primary goal of protecting the authenticity of the wines and the livelihoods of the producers. Appellation rules strictly define which varieties of grapes and winemaking practices are approved for classification in each of France's several hundred geographically defined appellations, which can cover entire regions, individual villages or in some cases, like in Burgundy even specific vineyards.

Classic wine regions in France include Champagne (home of Champagne), Burgundy (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay), Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot), Alsace (Aromatic varietals), Loire Valley (Chenin Blanc, Crémant) and the Rhône Valley (Syrah, Grenache Mourvedre)

The Bordeaux classification of 1855 is still in use, as is the Sauternes and Barsac Classification of the same year. Wines from certain regions can be bought En Primeur, which is when the wine is sold prior to it being bottled.
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  1. Chateau d'armailhac 2017 (Ex Chateau arrivale time 4 months)
    A glimpse at the great wine -- and a beauty in its own right. Next door to owners Mouton Rothschild, Armailhac is produced under the same elevated standards including, famously, the use of second fill barrels from the great wine ... Learn More
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    James Suckling
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    Vinous
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    Robert Parker
  2. Chateau Duhart Milon 2017 (Ex Chateau arrivale time 4 months)
    Château Duhart-Milon’s grand vin is often described as a model of the Pauillac appellation. The 2017 Chateau Duhart-Milon is terrific, offering tons of Pauillac character in its smoked tobacco, blackcurrant, new leather, and spicy, earthy aromas and flavors. Rich, ... Learn More
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    Jeb Dunnuck
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  3. Carruades De Lafite 1994
    Carraudes is the second wine of Lafite, and has historically been regarded as one of the finest seconds of Bordeaux. ... Learn More
  4. Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2014 (Ex Chateau arrival time 4 months)
    Unquestionably one of the great wines in the vintage, the 2014 Mouton-Rothschild offers more flamboyance, depth, and texture than just about every other release out there. Crème de cassis, violets, lead pencil, and ample creamy oak notes all emerge from ... Learn More
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    James Suckling
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    Antonio Galloni
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    Jeb Dunnuck
  5. Pavillon Rouge Chateau Margaux 2018 (Ex Chateau arrivale time 4 months)
    The 2018 Pavillon Rouge accounts for 30% of the crop this year. It is composed of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc, with 14.5% alcohol. Deep garnet-purple in color, it sings of crushed black and red currants, warm black berries and ... Learn More
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    Vinous
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    James Suckling
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    Robert Parker
  6. Carruades De Lafite 2017 (Ex Chateau arrivale time 4 months)
    Château Lafite Rothschild’s second wine, Carruades de Lafite presents similar characteristics to the Grand Vin, but with its own personality linked to a higher proportion of Merlot and to specific plots that are used to produce Carruades. The ... Learn More
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    James Suckling
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  7. Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2017 (Ex Chateau arrivale time 4 months)
    A blend of 90 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, nine percent Merlot and one percent Petit Verdot, this falls into the glass with a deep, dark colour. The nose is already singing of crushed black currants, warm blackberries and chocolate-covered cherries with hints ... Learn More
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    James Suckling
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  8. Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2017 (Ex Chateau arrivale time 4 months)
    Lafite is one of the greatest wines of Bordeaux. It was one of the four Chateaux originally classed as "First Growths" in 1855 and has been owned by the Rothschild dynasty since 1868. Composed of 96% Cabernet Sauvignon with 3.5% Merlot and 0.5% Petit Verdot, ... Learn More
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    Robert Parker
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    James Suckling
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