Each issue Wine&Spirits focuses on one variety or group of related wines and selects the best wines in that category for the year.

     December 2006

Over the last twelve months,
Wine & Spirits tasted 535 American cabernets.

These 9 cabernet sauvignons received the strongest praise from our critics.

Cabernet Sauvignon
96  I  Rubicon $110
2002 Rutherford Napa Valley
The wine has an internal energy; it feels bursting with life, in bloom. The dark fruit is at once luscious and beautifully formed, the flavor lasting for minutes. A genuine expression of place. (W&S 10/06) Rubicon Estate, Rutherford, CA

95  I  Ladera $68
2003 Howell Mountain Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Succulent, compact flavors of cassis, cedar and herbs, classically styled, gain intensity with air while the fruit remains lively and youthfully fresh. Beautifully composed. (W&S 10/06) Ladera Vineyards, Angwin, CA

94  I  Diamond Creek $175
2003 Diamond Mountain Napa Valley Red Rock Terrace Cabernet Sauvignon
The most immediately appealing of the three '03 Diamond Creek wines, this balances wild blueberry fruit with powerful minerality. (675 cases) (W&S 12/06) Diamond Creek Vineyards, Calistoga, CA

94  I  Leonetti $70
2003 Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
This balances the power of fruit from Walla Walla's warm vineyards with astonishing finesse. Its flavors are light yet grounded by fine, firm tannins, the finish long. (2,198 cases) (W&S 10/06) Ballentine Vineyards, St. Helena, CA

94  I  Terra Valentine $34
2003 Spring Mountain Napa Valley Wurtele Vyd. Cabernet Sauvignon
This emphasizes umami flavors of earth, from truffles to dark, mineral tannins, all surrounding a core of fresh black currant fruit. Lovely elegance. (300 cases) (W&S 12/06) Terra Valentine Vines, St. Helena, CA

95  I  Shafer $190
2002 Stags Leap District Napa Valley Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon
From a sweet spot of the Stags Leap District, this is an intensely structured 2002, posh with supple cabernet fruit and dark minerality. (2,400 cases) (W&S 12/06) Shafer Vineyards, Napa, CA

94  I  Keenan $80
2002 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Mountain-grown tannins give this a superrich feel, the flavor black and exotic with a deep, primary feel. For lamb or game sausages. (280 cases) (W&S 8/06) (W&S 8/06) Robert Keenan Winery, St. Helena, CA

94  I  Pepper Bridge $50
2003 Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Bright with tobacco and cherry scents, this is sinewy and lithe, with fine tannins that give way to a fruit-driven finish. Extraordinary now, it will reward the patient. (3,142 cases) (W&S 10/06) Pepper Bridge Winery, Walla Walla, WA

94  I  von Strasser $100
2002 Diamond Mountain Napa Valley Reserve
With 39 percent petit verdot, this contrasts brightness and density, an elegant play on red currant and tart blackberry flavors. Built to cellar for a decade or more. (282 cases) (W&S 2/06) von Strasser Wine Co., St. Helena, CA