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How to pick a great Cabernet at any price

Cabernet Sauvignon is widely cultivated in almost every major grape-growing region throughout the world. It is the most widely planted wine grape varietal worldwide. ...scroll to read more

Perhaps the best explanation of the enduring popularity of Cabernet is its ability to age gracefully, and the fact that some of the world’s most iconic wines are made of this noble grape varietal.

What are the characteristics of Cabernet Sauvignon?

Cabernet Sauvignon is typically known for having flavours of black cherry, cassis (black current), and plum, as well as dark chocolate, mint, or even eucalyptus. Depending on how the wine is aged in oak barrel, the wine can further exhibit aromas of vanilla, mocha, cigar box, or pencil shavings. Robust tannins are also typical of Cabernet. Tannins are the backbone that allows Cabernet to improve with age.

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch

Is there a New World and Old World-style of Cabernet Sauvignon?

New World vs. Old World-style often refers to the stylistic preference of the winemaker, who may lean toward a certain type of Cabernet—for example New World may be characterised as bold, fruity and accessible, while Old World might be considered more restrained and structured. But the most important factor affecting the outcome of a wine would be the terroir, or the unique combination of climate and soil.

Are South African Cabernets considered New World or Old World?

It would be fair to say that South Africa has a unique position in the timeline of winemaking. Many historic wineries in South Africa trace influences back to early French and Dutch settlers. This affinity to Old World wines, coupled with a long history of winemaking, may just position South Africa mid-way between the Old and New world.

How does oak maturation affect Cabernet Sauvignon?

After fermentation, the wine is put into oak barrels to mature for anywhere between a couple of months to a couple of years. Oak barrels (usually French or American) are an extremely costly investment ranging from $600 to over $1200 per barrel. These barrels are carefully used over the course of several years, each time imparting less robust flavour, but still facilitating a gentle environment for maturation. Winemakers balance the use of oak so that flavours from the wood don’t overwhelm the flavours of the fruit.

Cabernet Sauvignon is typically aged in French oak barrels.

What determines the price of a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon?

The pricing of wine can be mystifying, although quality and value can be found at all price points. These are just some of the factors that may influence the retail price of a bottle of wine:

  1. The vineyard location and its yield of fruit.
  2. The amount of manual labour or specialised equipment required.
  3. The length of time and number of oak barrels used in vinification.
  4. Scarcity or rarity of the wine. Provenance of the bottle.
  5. Track record, critical acclaim, or awards.
  6. Age-worthiness of the wine.
  7. Cost of packaging, shipping.

How do I decide on a Cabernet that is right for me?

With such a wide variety of quality Cabernets available, making a selection can be daunting. The important thing to remember is that there are no right or wrong decisions. Wineman offers a collection of quality Cabernets at all price points to suit every occasion. There is value to be found at all prices, and consumers have individual preferences and palates. While navigating the wide range of Cabernets available on Wineman, get to know a little bit about how the wines came to be—getting familiar with the backstory of the people and winemaking can greatly enhance your enjoyment of a wine.

What are some of the different styles of Cabernet Sauvignon available on


MAN Family Wines Ou Kalant Cabernet Sauvignon is a perennial customer favourite on Wineman. This well-priced Cabernet combines New World ripe fruit flavours with Old World elegance. Grapes are sourced from dry-farmed vineyards in the Agter-Paarl region. The Malmesbury Shale soils in this region have excellent water retention ability and make concentrated, flavourful grapes with small berries. The result is a fruit-forward wine with aromas of dark cherries and mint, followed by cassis and red currant fruit on the palate. It has soft, silky tannins and a long finish.


Lievland Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon combines fruit from high-altitude cooler Stellenbosch vineyards together with dry-farmed warmer climate Paarl vineyards. The combination makes for a balanced wine with complexity and an abundance of rich fruit. Aromas of blueberries and ripe plums give way to a palate of dark fruit with soft tannins and an elegant polished finish. This aromatic Cabernet was blended with a touch of Cinsault (a soft and perfumed grape) to lift the vibrant fruit, as well as Malbec (a dark and robust grape) to contribute structure and depth.


Stark-Condé Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon is made from organically-grown estate grapes. Stark-Condé is located in the pristine Jonkershoek Valley, and the high-elevation vineyards are known to produce Cabernet grapes of exceptional quality. Yields are deliberately kept low, and the winemaking is done in a traditional, time-consuming manner with minimal intervention in the cellar. The Cabernet is matured in oak barrel for 20 months, after which the wine is carefully bottled without fining or filtration. Blackberry and tea-leaf aromas, with a rich and polished palate of dark fruit and mocha flavours. Balanced acidity, a long finish, and fine tannins which are the hallmarks of a premium Jonkershoek Valley Cabernet. A wine that will reward careful cellaring.

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