Five California Cabernet Sauvignons For Under $20
Cabernet is King -- a grape grown in more places than any other grape (i.e. virtually everywhere) and with good reason. It's hard to say the absolute best region for producing Cabernet Sauvignon, but areas of California would certainly be on the list. Across the state, and even within one single winery, you can find Cabernets ranging from less than $10 to those costing hundreds of dollars. Per our usual style we're all about finding inexpensive wines that over-deliver so today I have a selection of Cabernet from all across California at several different price-points under $20. You might just be surprised how good some of these inexpensive bottles can be! So here we go with our newest Five Favorites post: California Cabernets For Less Than $20!
2010 Redtree Cabernet Sauvignon
Let's start with the lowest price wine on this list. At only $7 you might be tempted to just pass this one by as you think to yourself: "A Cabernet can't really be good for only $7, can it??" Break out of the higher-cost-is-better paradigm and discover a pretty amazing wine for the price. Smoky black cherry and toffee combine for a smooth and easy to drink Cabernet that will hold up just fine on day 2. I'd give this one strong consideration to be your new house red
2009 Louis M. Martini Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon
Louis M. Martini specializes in Cabernet and as such they have several different levels ranging from this one on the low end, to several other moderately priced wines (some we've tried), all the way up to the Lot No. 1 that retails for just under $150. The nice thing about a winery like this is that you know that they know how to make good wine. So even when they are producing a lower priced wine like this one, you can be pretty confident it is well made, and that is exactly the case here. (I guess 75 years of hard work and specialization in Cabernet pays off.) This wine features flavors of black cherry cola, strawberry, raspberry, and vanilla plus some good dusty tannins, all for as little as $11.
2009 Concannon Conservancy Livermore Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Concannon Vineyards has a pretty amazing operation that I got see up and close and personal on my flipflop wines press trip. (flipflop's parent company, The Wine Group, also owns Concannon and is headquartered at Concannon Vineyards.) Concannon's facilities are top notch, and they definitely go above and beyond with their commitment to putting much of their land into conservancy. This $9 wine is quite delicious with dark, rich fruit and soft tannins plus a bit of pepper, leather and earthiness that balances out the fruit. Their vineyard is definitely worth a stop if you find yourself near Livermore Valley, and if you do visit make it a point to have a meal, and definitely some wine, at the Underdog Wine Bar. The food is delicious but the best part is the to-die-for Petite Sirah ice cream which is almost good enough to justify a trip out there all by itself!
2008 Rodney Strong Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon
This is another wine from Sonoma County from a winery that produces a number of very expensive wines. The high quality of this entry level offering makes it easy to play off the word "Strong": solid, dependable and reliable are just a few of descriptors you'll use when trying this really tasty wine. It all begins with really pleasant aromas of plum, vanilla, cedar, and black cherry. Tasting the wine discovers more dark fruit flavors balanced with spice, vanilla, and oak plus a rich and full texture. At a price as low as $12 it's really hard to go wrong with this wine.
2008 Napa Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley deliciousness that somehow costs less than $20 (a feat in itself) AND it tastes delicious! Napa Valley is probably near the top when talking about Cabernet in California and part of the reason for the higher price is simply the lower grape yields per acre. Lower yields generally lead to more flavorful grapes so if a Napa Valley vineyard is producing half as many grapes per acre as a Sonoma County vineyard then it will take twice as many grapes (and twice as much land) to produce the same amount of wine. This means there's a real reason why some wines cost much more than others. The takeaway is simply that this wine, at only $16, is a steal. Delicious aromas of berries, spice, licorice, violet and a little chocolate (I could smell this all day) are followed by smooth and luscious fruit flavors when tasting. Add a long, lingering finish of fruit, spice and dark chocolate and you've entered Cabernet heaven.
So there you go...five of my favorite California Cabernets. Also be sure to check out the previous Five Favorites series:
All wines were samples received for review purposes. Click through to the full posts for all the details on each wine. See a listing of local retailers selling this wine here.