The World’s Most Wanted Cabernets

It’s the world’s most popular grape, but do a few regions skew its popularity too much?

When you’re on top of the world, there’s usually only one way to go – unless you’re Cabernet Sauvignon.

Cabernet’s unwavering popularity seems insuperable – producers love growing it and consumers love drinking it, a condition that seems increasingly unlikely to change anytime soon. However, that’s not to say that it doesn’t have it challenges – and challengers.

For a start, the current darling of the cognoscenti – Pinot Noir – has been eating into Cabernet’s market share of our 225 million-odd annual search results. So far this year, for example, searches for Cabernet Sauvignon have outnumbered Pinot Noir searches by a factor of 2.5. However, five years ago that would have been by a factor of 3.

It isn’t just Pinot, of course. Bordeaux blends (which we classify as a separate category) have also made inroads into Cabernet’s dominance, and a look at the wines that have historically populated our most searched-for wines lists shows how much consumers love a Bordeaux blend. But then the popularity of the Bordeaux blend itself is based on the presence of Cabernet.

Another thing that Cabernet has in its favor is its ubiquity. Wherever wine industries have developed around the world, growers have planted Cabernet; whether or not they have consistently made successful wines form it is neither here nor there – the fact of Cabernet’s presence is the point.

So, looking at our list of the world’s most searched-for Cabs, one thing will stick out to the observant reader: some of the biggest and most successful regions are not represented – no Napa, no Bordeaux. That’s because Napa gets its own list, as does Bordeaux (although there are precious few straight Cabs released from there). Not listing these separately would unfairly distort the picture for Cabernet, especially given Napa’s prominence when it comes to the variety – of the top 25 most searched-for Cabs, 21 come from Napa.

As a result of separating out those searches, the list is much more varied than you might imagine.

The World’s Most Wanted Cabernet Sauvignons on Wine-Searcher:

While the list might contain seven of the wines that made last year’s list, there is a substantially different look to it this year. For a start, last year’s chart-topper, Doubleback from Walla Walla Valley, has disappeared entirely. The wine, owned by former NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe, has turned tail and sprinted down the search rankings, falling around 2800 places overall.

The other wines missing from last year’s list are the Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet and the Torres Mas la Plana from Spain, although neither wine has seen such a steep fall-off in searches.

Those three wines have been replaced by the Ridge, Gandolini and Moss Wood wines, which add a little more diversity to the mix; Gandolini is from Chile, while Moss Wood hails from Western Australia’s Margaret River, meaning US wines account for only half of this year’s list, down from six representatives last year.

Price-wise, the wines have remained surprisingly stable. The only real jump was for the Bin 707, which saw its global average price nudge upwards by $37, a rise of around 9 percent. The rest have shuffled up or down by a couple of bucks, displaying a commendable consistency in a world where constant price hikes have become the norm.

There’s a lot to be said for maintaining your standards.

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