While both cabernet sauvignon (known as the “Prince of Grapes”) and shiraz usually produce big red wines, there are a few differences between the two.
Where each variety is grown.
In South Australia, the Barossa Valley is best known for it’s shiraz, while the cooler region of Coonawarra in the South East of the state is known for it’s cabernet sauvignon.
Barossa cabernet is just as special, with different characteristics to a cool climate cabernet and its own distinctive aromas and flavours.
Cabernet sauvignon is frequently described as having aromas of blackberry, cassis, leather and mint, whereas shiraz is peppery, smoky, spicy and meaty.
Differences on the Palate
Australia likes to put its hand up for having invented the shiraz cabernet blend. Blending these two great varieties of fruit gives the best characteristics of both in a wine. Shiraz has a rich mid-palate, whilst Cabernet is strong up front in the mouth and on the finish, but dull on the mid-palate. This hole in the middle (or doughnut structure) is filled by the Shiraz.
Differences in the Vineyard
In our vineyard, where our 5 acres of shiraz grows next to our 5 acres of cabernet sauvignon, there is a clear line of demarkation between the two, where the darker green foliage of the cabernet sauvignon stands out from the lighter green shiraz leaves. Shiraz ripens a bit earlier than Cabernet and is generally a more “robust” variety.
The Grape differences
It’s clear in the image where I am holding a bunch of each variety, that they are quite different too. The smaller bunch with the smaller berries are the cabernet sauvignon and the larger berries shiraz. This photo was taken about 4 weeks before harvest, where the grapes are fully formed and maximum size, but needing more time to develop flavours and sugar/acid levels required to make great wine.
Put it to the Test!
The wines we produce at Seize the Day Wines offer the perfect opportunity to taste and compare these characteristics.
We make a 100% Shiraz, a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and a 60/40 Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon blend. Have some fun and start practicing your varietal identification skills!
If this topic interests you, you are most welcome to call me and ask any questions (or order wine!).
You can also come and stay in our luxury heritage cottage, Seppeltsfield Vineyard Cottage located adjacent to our vineyard here in beautiful Seppeltsfield, Barossa Valley.
Watch our video of some of the things to do during your stay in the Barossa…
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