Best Buys in US Cabernet Sauvignon - Wine & Spirits Magazine

Best Buys in US Cabernet Sauvignon

Whether your holiday dinner plans include roast leg of lamb or Portobello mushrooms stuffed with wild rice and cranberries, here’s an overflowing case of cabernets—the best values from a year’s worth of tastings. All of them pack delicious drinking for your December feasts.

Rodney Strong
2018 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon

91 | $22

Justin Seidenfeld blended this wine from a range of vineyards, focusing on the hills surrounding Alexander Valley, offering a bright Bing cherry scented cabernet that feels cool and elegant. The tannins in the finish are bitter at first, but they develop and merge into the gentle rolling richness of the fruit, adding tension and spice. An impressive value. —J.G.

2018 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

91 | $25

This wine is wildly rich and concentrated for the price, with scents of ink and purple plum ringed by violet and peppercorn. It’s massive, calling out for barbecue. —P.J.C.

2017 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

91 | $30

Heavy at first, this wine becomes wonderfully spicy as it opens with air, showing off carob, mint, Christmas spice and anise, all grounding powerfully dark fruit and firm tannins. —P.J.C.

2017 Santa Ynez Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

91 | $32

Pleasingly dusty and a touch sanguine, this wine’s firm tannins will put you in mind of Tuscan reds. Its woodsy and a touch smoky, with mildly spicy and savory cherry flavors, for tri tip. —P.J.C.

The Vice
2019 Napa Valley Batch #2019 The House Cabernet Sauvignon

91 | $33

Fresh blackcurrant flavors meet savory black-olive and rose-hip notes in this generously textured cabernet. It’s fresh, spicy and long, the tannins present providing a mellow sort of tension. For roast quail stuffed with wild mushrooms. —J.G.

Walla Walla Vintners
2018 Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

91 | $35

This cabernet channels the broad tannic structure of early Walla Walla reds. It smells of sawdust and sundried tomato, with flavors of dark cherry and cedary oak, massively structured. —P.J.C.

2018 Napa Valley Carneros Cabernet Sauvignon

91 | $40

Tart cherry and blackcurrant flavors provide the fruit focus in this wine. The tannins are herbal and gentle in tone. For roast lamb. —J.G.

Saviah Cellars
2018 Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

92 | $30

This wine leads with exotic scents of five-spice powder, cardamom and cocoa, all laced around dark plum fruit, with plum-skin tannins that are as sensuous as crushed velvet. —P.J.C.

L’Ecole No 41
2018 Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

92 | $40

From mostly estate sources, this wine starts off big-shouldered and grippy, with scents of menthol, only to fill in with a gorgeous briary plum fruit. It’s plenty concentrated, with the grip for a charry, smoky steak, blue and bloody. —P.J.C.

2017 Rutherford Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

92 | $40

Tight and austere when first opened, this wine takes a day to begin to show itself. What starts as a perfumed note, one that takes Rutherford dust into powder-puff territory, begins to turn toward green-tea-leaf as the tannins allow the firm and juicy core of the wine to show. Give this several hours in a decanter or several years in the cellar for the structure to relent. —J.G.

Ambassador Wines of Washington
2018 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

92 | $42

Smoky and rich, with scents of wood smoke and plum, this wine’s chewy intensity keeps its textures focused, showing chocolate, leather, foresty tannin, all driven by firm, bright acidities. —P.J.C.

Seven Hills
2018 Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

93 | $30

Seven Hills winery makes such classic Walla Walla wines that it’s tempting to say they invented the style; they have, without question, served as a standard bearer. That style combines savory elements, like tobacco, tanbark, cedar and sundried tomato, enveloping a dark-fruited core. You can feel the force of its texture, with a pleasing grip that owes as much to its acids as its tannin. For a braised beef dish, like daube. —P.J.C.

Domaine Eden
2018 Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon

93 | $45

Jeffrey Patterson blends this wine from five Bordeaux varieties, focusing on cabernet sauvignon grown at his Mount Eden and Domaine Eden estates, as well as fruit from three other vineyards in Saratoga and Los Gatos. He ferments the parcels separately, without added yeasts, building a wine with quiet persistence in its cherry essence and delicate chanterelle scent. It feels clean with the cool ripeness of a Pacific cabernet. Decant it if you open the bottle now; it needs hours of air before serving with lamb. —J.G.

The wines on this page were chosen by our editors, from our tastings for the December 2021 edition. After our editors made their selections, we offered wineries the opportunity to promote their award with a bottle image and brand links.

Patrick J. Comiskey covers US wines for Wine & Spirits magazine, focusing on the Pacific Northwest, California’s Central Coast and New York’s Finger Lakes.

Joshua Greene is the editor and publisher of Wine & Spirits magazine.

This story appears in the print issue of December 2021.
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