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Wine Spectator School

Class 7: New World Model: California

california's major varieties, continued


Cabernet Sauvignon
Along with Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon helped put California on the world wine map, producing some of the state's most collectible wines.

The wines made from Napa Valley fruit are famous thanks to their intense flavors, firm tannins and ability to age.

Less well-known but also very high in quality are Cabs from Sonoma County; sometimes leaner and less intensely flavored, they can be fairly complex. The warmth of Paso Robles in the Central Coast encourages riper, earlier-drinking wines.

California Cabernet Sauvignons are frequently aged in oak, as are their models in Bordeaux.

Although they may be varietally labeled, many are blended with traditional Bordeaux varieties such as Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Some wineries indicate that a wine is a traditional Bordeaux blend by using the...

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