A Cabernet by Any Other Name

A good friend of mine that enjoys wine but does not have an encyclopedic knowledge of the grape recently had an interesting problem. He was taking a business associate to a fine French restaurant and wanted to be sure and order a good French wine to enjoy. He knew that the associate was a fan of Cabernet Sauvignon, but my friend wasn’t sure what the corresponding wine from France would be.

Unfortunately it is not as simple as reading the label. To make a long story short (future blogs will cover this in greater detail), the variety of grape used in a wine is not listed on a French wine label. The key is in the appellation or region where the grapes for the wine were grown. In France, wine laws require that traditional varieties are grown and used in each region so you need to know the corresponding grape varieties for each region.

So, which French region is best known for Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet blends..?

This would be the most direct association (there are other regions for Cab, not to mention other grapes in Bordeaux such as Merlot). So start with this nugget of information and let your restaurant wine sommelier or retail consultant guide you further.

As a side note, if you run into this same issue with Italian wines, ask for a Super Tuscan.