Monday, July 23, 2012

King Cabernet and Seductress Shiraz

This one written for

Cabernet may be king but the throne is faux and the real power lies with the seductress Shiraz. Cabernet is regarded as one of the great interlopers of indigenous and new vineyards worldwide, and is a chance crossing between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc - a bastard, one might say. But like all bastards, Cabernet can be as suave and sophisticated as any blue-blood, with no compunction about pretending to be king, or even Elvis.

Shiraz, cast for so long as a Persian belly dancer, actually has a more noble - and now fashionable - lineage. Unlike relative newcomer Cabernet in Bordeaux, Shiraz has reigned in the Rhone since Roman times and DNA profiling reveals it as progeny of Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche in southeast France. Shiraz is now estimated to be at least the world's fifth most planted grape.

Cabernet's conqueror reputation is yet another pretence, for while he strode far and wide, he ruled neither his conquests nor his backyard with any real authority. As one Australian winemaker puts it "Bordeaux's greatest coup was in convincing the rest of the world that the great red Bordeaux is pure Cabernet".

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