Primary: Cabs lean toward dark black fruits from black cherry, black currant and plum with unique licorice undertones although in a cool vintage red fruit flavors and green bell pepper notes frequently appear. Fruits are juicy and ripe which helps balance high levels of tannin typical in the varietal.
Secondary: Often fermented in oak barrels, cedar, smoke, clove, vanilla and pepper undertones create great balance to the juicy, fruit forward variety and can help mellow strong, even astringent tannins.
Tertiary: Aging can add complexity to Cabernet Sauvignon and will also mellow the impact of tannins making the wine softer and smoother. Fruit flavors will taste more dried. Earthy flavors will start to form – you aren’t crazy if you taste some dirt, mushrooms, leather, flavors of tobacco, composting leaves or dried meats. If a wine is intentionally aged in oak barrels for a longer period, the winemaker can achieve more intense coffee and chocolate flavors as the wine has more exposure to small amounts of air. Remember the term “oxidation”?