Researchers from the University of Adelaide in South Australia recently launched the first searchable database of the world’s wine grape plantings 1. A quick browse reveals that Cabernet Sauvignon is now the most widely planted grape variety, and indeed since 1990 both Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot have more than doubled their acreage under vine. This makes them the top two cultivated grape varieties in the world, and it goes to show that despite talk of quirky cultivars and happening indigenous grapes, the tried-and-true still rule the vineyards.
The research — which spanned 521 wine regions across 44 countries and 1271 different grapes — also found that the balance of red versus white plantings continues to stack in red’s favour. At the turn of the millennium white grapes outnumbered red, but now red grapes represent 55 percent of the world’s total vineyard acreage.
Grapes may be an agricultural product, but wine is still a luxury item and therefore subject to trends and fads just as any fashionable good. Growers have their ear to the tasting room, and more and more consumers have been clamouring for red wine.
Whether its associations with the height of wine sophistication or a quest to ingest more heart-healthy antioxidants, it’s hip to drink red. And Cabernet Sauvignon, thanks to its historical pedigree and naturally thick skins and hearty pips, hits all the right notes.
Given the abundance of Cabernet Sauvignon planted around the wine world, it’s no stretch to say that there’s a Cab Sauv for all tastes — and budgets. If value is on the mind, check out Santa Carolina’s Reserva Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.
Made predominantly from old vine fruit grown at the Chilean winery’s Miraflores Vineyard in the Colchagua Valley, it offers classic Cab cassis and herbaceous tones. It’s an easy style to get into: relatively rich and ripe yet with enough structure and a dry, almost savoury finish. For food matches, consider roast pork or a pot of chili.
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