Have you ever wondered what makes the same grape varietal from Chile taste so different from, for example, France or California? The short answer is Terroir. For those of you unfamiliar with Terroir, it quite literally means “Dirt”. It is the dirt of the geographical location that imparts personality on the vines. Vines, being living creatures, are a product of their environment, from the dirt they are grown in, the climate they are raised in, to the steady guiding hand of the winemaker. All of these components come together to create the concept of Terroir, and to ultimately influence what we find in our glass. If you look at regions with a long history of grape growing, (and even some newer regions!) you can see how the local culture, culinary traditions and wine come together to expertly complement each other.
Returning to my initial example of France, Chile and California, let’s take a (very broad!) look at how the Cabernet varietal can express itself differently in these areas. Certainly even within these broad geographical areas terroir and what some call micro-terroirs create many nuanced differences, but here is an overview of what you can expect.
California Cab’s tends to be bigger, bolder, fruitier and contain more oak, usually American oak. Californian Cab’s tend to burst from the glass with juicy, smoky and spice notes such as vanilla. California Cabs pair well with BBQ meats, the redder the better! And isn’t the american way, bigger is better?
The French Cabernets tend to be more austere, more often than not using French oak which unlike the vanilla and smoke bombs provided by American oak, provides more subtle, spicy flavour changes such as anise or clove. For the French, the key is in the details. A more subtle wine all around means there is more room for many flavours and aromas to develop without one overpowering the other. While Cab is always a classic pairing for meats, French Cabs tend to lend themselves more to charcuteries or pâtés.
Chilean Cabs could be said to fall somewhere in between the two styles, albeit with a personality of it’s very own. Chilean Cab’s are often planted at higher altitudes, where the UV can be much stronger. Grapes develop a thicker skin under these conditions, allowing the juicy blackberry notes to be complemented by dusty, earthy notes. Chilean Cab’s are also perfect with BBQ, but the traditional coal stoked Asado as they call it in Chile. Top your grilled meat with and egg and some fries, a lo pobre style and you’ve got the traditional Chilean Cab pairing
As you may have already guessed, we carry all three of these Cab’s so you can see for yourself the difference terroir can make.