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What are some of your favourite cabernets?

Planning a wine tasting party featuring the formidable Cabernet varietal and want to offer a good bottle--good meaning good value for the cash, and nothing I'd have to mortgage my house for. What are your favourites?

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  1. Where are you located and what price range would you be comfortable at? This information is likely to help narrow down the possibilities for anyone that wants to repond.

    I find that I like some CS from the Alexander Valley that can be relative bargains, but I don't know what you have access to.

    2 Replies
    1. re: scrappydog

      My absolute favorite Cabernets and those that I would consider good value for the cash aren't always the same wines. In fact, they rarely are. If the question is, "what are some of your favorites", the answer might include Buccella, Seavey, Keever, Pina, Pride, and Clark-Claudon. If the question is, "What are some of the great bargains for quality in the Cabernet world", my answer would probably be Blueprint by Lail, Seavey (again), the non vineyard-designate Cabernets from Neal, and Kamen. Those are just off the top of my head and I'm sure I could come up with a few more if pressed to think about it.

      R. Jason Coulston

      1. re: Jason_Coulston

        it all depends on the vintage but here are some of my favorite:

        mid price:
        karl lawrence
        drinkward peschon
        neal family

        high end:
        switchback ridge
        quilceda creek
        robert foley

    2. American? Australian? South American? Italian? French (Bordeaux and/or elsewhere)? Elsewhere? And "good value for cash" depends pon what's in your wallet . . . what is comfortable for you?


      3 Replies
      1. re: zin1953

        I'm guessing by the way you spell favorite that you are in Canada so I'm not sure what is available in your area but I just had Edge Cabernet for the first time and thought is was a wicked value, ($17.99). Reminded me of old school Napa Cabernet.

        1. re: bubbles4me

          You mean the OP, don't you, and not me?

          1. re: zin1953

            Yes I was trying to respond to the OP...sorry about that. I was just guessing by the spelling that they may be in Canada and I am unsure what might be available there...stuck in my SoCal retail scene.

      2. need a better idea of what you are looking for.

        1. Fav. Cabs: Diamond Creek (any single vineyard, except Lake, as it is so very pricy).
          Caymus SS.
          Joseph Phelps' Insignia (OK, it's a blend, but that is alright)
          Cain Five (another blend, but what's wrong with blends?)
          Sullivan Napa - needs some time in the decanter
          Milat Napa - was the base Cab for Silver Oak Napa for decades, and has wonderful mint notes.
          Older Mondavi Reserve Cabs - newer ones are not yet up to par
          Beringer Reserve - older still seems better
          Groth Red Stripe - always great, even in poorer years


          1. Hey all--Located in Montreal where French wines are bountiful but nothing is cheap. I was hoping to spend less than fifty dollars-which puts me in midrange I believe, price-wise.

            And to answer the question about "terroir" I guess I'd have to say that French wines tend to be my favourite but I'm open. I know that those that love their Californian wines REALLY love their Californian wines--just not sure if I'd be able to get any here.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Aspiring Foodie

              grab a copy of "Decanter"; you might well be able to pick up one of their Bordeaux suggestions as (and this is a HUGE generalization) they prefer France to California.

              1. re: Aspiring Foodie

                Torres Mas La Plana is a Spanish Cab from the Penedes. The SAQ site claims to have the 2000, 2001, 2003 at various sites, and it is retailing for about $40-45. Wine Spectator rates 2001 and 2003 as a "90" if you are into that sort of thing. I've had several vintages, and I think it is a classy bottle of wine, I've always enjoyed it, and for the price, I think it is reasonable. It will be different, that's for sure. If you go to the SAQ site and do a search, you will find several locations to buy it.

                I took a quick look through the SAQ offerings of California Cabs in the $50 and under category, and frankly, nothing really stood out as being a great buy. A lot of the bottles were from the 2003-2004 years, and they weren't that exciting. I think you'd get more bang for your buck with the Torres. Now if you are willing to up the limit, you might find something really worth drinking. But I must admit that I rarely buy California wines in Quebec, as I find the selection and prices much better on random trips to the States.

                I will also add that I am not the hugest fan of straight Cabernet Sauvignon, so feel free to take my suggestion with a grain of salt.

                Have a great evening!

                1. re: moh

                  woodward canyon artist series (walla walla, wa). Amazing cab.

                  1. re: Vetter

                    I am not familiar with this wine, so thanks for the tip! I shall look for it.

                    1. re: moh

                      Tried 2005 Shelter 27-29 Cab a month ago....really fine, and an amazing value at $49.99 considering it's a project of an undisclosed Napa heavyweight dealing with a grape glut & selling what would normally be $300 juice at a bargain price. Check it out...satisfies all the OP's criteria.

                      1. re: drumwine

                        I would focus on Cabs from South America if you are wanting to spend less than $50/bottle. Concha Y Toro Marques a Casa Concha 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon is a good buy, probably around $25 in Quebec. Errazuriz Founder's Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is around $50.

                        You also might take a trip to the Australian aisle of your favourite wine store. Penfold's makes a good cab-sauv in the $35 range.

                        South Africa is another wine region to explore w/r/t good cab-sauv values.

                        As for Bordeaux, ask your local wine expert about the best wines of the 2004 vintage. 2003 and 2005, especially 2005, were over-inflated due to all the hype from RP and WS, but 2004 was a more traditional year. I went to a 2004 Bordeaux tasting last year and enjoyed several of the offerings....the wines were not as concentrated as 2003, but they had finesse, and several were drinking surprisingly well at a young age.

                        California...I'm just not so sure. I do, however, like the Beringer Knights' Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from 2002, and it is just under $50 in most Canadian provinces.

                        Not sure if you can readily get BC Okanagan wines in Quebec, but I bought a half-case of Jackson-Triggs Cabernet Sauvignon "Sunrock Vineyard" 2004 last year, and it has been a universally big hit with dinner guests (as well as with my hard-to-please spouse). It retails for $30-35 in BC.

                        Ontario's improving Niagara region might yield a few surprises, too (and the wines are probably more readily available in Quebec).

                        1. re: anewton

                          My favorite Cabernet Sauvignons:
                          Abeja (Walla Walla)
                          Couvillion (Walla Walla)
                          Randy Dunn's "Feather" by Long Shadows in Walla Walla

                          Walla Walla Vintner's Cabernet Franc (you didn't specify what kind of Cabernet grape - heh)

                2. re: Aspiring Foodie

                  The second wine of my all-time favorite Bordeaux is La Croix du Beaucaillou. It's a really ghood buy and a tasty wine.

                  If you love St. Juliens the way I do, you will also enjoy Roseraie de Gruaud Larose. Chateau Talbot is usually a good deal, and Montrose, as well.

                  Another "little Bordeaux" that I loke a lot, and consistently, is Chateau Bernadotte.

                3. This is an absolute no brainer for me. The 2006 ViƱa Cobos "Cocodrilo" Cabernet Sauvignon is amazing! And it only costs $16. Amazing considering it takes $100+ to touch any of Paul Hobb's state side efforts. Don't hesitate on this one!



                  1. Dragonfly, from Nickel and Nickel
                    Sullinger, from N&N
                    Stelling, from N&N
                    Lewis Family
                    Shafer Hillside Select -- stunning
                    2005 To-Kalon from Mondavi, don't care so much for earlier years
                    Spring Mountain Vineyard, Regular Cab and Elivette
                    Beringer Private Reserve -- older is better as Hunt says

                    ...and those are just those that come to mind the quickest.
                    I know I ton more, but I'm tired...

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: maria lorraine

                      how about Realm, Rob't Nenow, Garric, Crocker Starr

                      1. re: ibstatguy

                        Crocker Starr's Cab is pretty. Just had it. I like their Cab Franc better, though.
                        Don't know Realm or Nenow. What are they like?

                        1. re: maria lorraine

                          re Nenow, Rob't is part of the group that is still standing after the Behrens and Hitchcock split. He makes a cab from Kenefick Ranch. That said, I just got his mailer and the current cab is reportedly 16%...
                          Realm is a nice project, kinda surprised that up in your neck of the woods that you have not run into them. I like their blends "Tempest" and "The Bard" although their single vyd "Farella" gets good press as well.


                          1. re: ibstatguy

                            Now that you say Kenefick Ranch, yes! Though I don't know Rob.

                            I faintly recall tasting the Realm Tempest, and I'm sorry to say I don't remember it. I know about their other wines, and it sounds like Realm is doing a good job. Yes, the vineyards are in my backyard.

                            ibstatguy, sounds like you're drinking some pretty swell swill these days.
                            Keep up the good work. Best, M.

                        2. re: ibstatguy

                          crocker & starr makes great cab franc!
                          had the whole line up of '05 realm few weeks ago and thought it was great!

                          1. re: rickym13

                            as I reported on the cab franc thread, bought my C&S cab franc allocation about a month ago and it arrived at my office last week ;-)

                      2. Staglin, Pride, Mayacamas, Dunn, Stags Leap Fay, Hietz, Fischer, Colgin, Phelps, are probably some of my favorites. I've had tons that were pretty good that I didn't list. It's kind of about what you like and would like to expose others to. If you like Napa cabs, paso cabs, sonoma cabs, washington cabs, or whatever bring one of those. Tasting is all about trying something you might not have tried or known about most of the time, unless you are considering investing for you cellar. Then it's entirely different imo.

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: Paul Weller

                          Owen Roe Dubrul Cab (Washington), John Anthony (Napa)

                          1. re: TonyO

                            Remember, folks, the OP lives in Quebec. Limited American offerings this side of the border. He'd have an easier time finding cabernet-dominated Bordeaux.

                            1. re: anewton

                              Drive across the border into NY/VT and help the economy of the US. The Canadian dollar is strong and we have a great variety of wines from all over the world to offer our friends to the North.

                              1. re: TonyO

                                While I have done this, you do have to remember that our government has a terrible policy re: wine importation. You have to be in the U.S. for a certain number of days (I believe 48 hours), and even then, you can only bring in 2 bottles ( !!! Arghhh!!!) If you go over, then you have to pay extra, usually the cost of the bottle again. Did I say Arghhhh already?

                                1. re: moh

                                  Moh, I agree!

                                  For our American (and otherwise) readers, the wine and spirits situation in Montreal is pretty dire. Monopolized by the government of Quebec's, not only can the selection be extremely limited, but the prices are outrageous. What would go for 10 dollars in the US could easily sell for 25-30 here.

                                  1. re: Aspiring Foodie

                                    With the exception of the "limited" aspect (OK, with regards to California wines, it IS limited), the UK is similar. I hate that my friends in London have no clue how good some US wines can be. They get one of the Mondavi group's bottom of the line Cabs for ~ US75! I used to wonder why Europeans hated great Zins, until I poured over hundreds of wine lists and retailers' bins and saw the reason. For ~US$100, they could sample a US$12 bottle. I'd hate it too!

                                    Here I complain about the lack of shipping to AZ, the limited selections and some of the prices. When you state the facts, I see I do not have it so bad, after all. I will stop my complaining, as it could be worse - much worse.


                              2. re: anewton

                                Good point. I had not picked that up in the OP, and probably missed it in the followups. A good reason for people to post their location, when inquiring about wines. What is available in SF may not even be shipped to, say Florida, or Canada. Heck, even though we share a border for a bit, with California, AZ doesn't have a lot of the wines, that appear on this board.


                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  Well in the end, my friends, I went with Beringer's Estate as a few people (on this board and otherwise) had recommended it. Unfortunately I had to get a relatively recent vintage (2005) even though more than one person said that the older, the better. But I have to say that for the 20 bucks I spent, I'd buy it again! And if I ever stumble upon an older one, I'd buy that too! I liked its fruitiness, nuttiness, balance, complexity, and texture. Also it had a nice medium finish (which surprised me, to be honest.)

                                  1. re: Aspiring Foodie

                                    Note for next time: often, a younger vintage can be "improved" with a bit of time in the decanter (which can be another bottle), and some time to open up. It's not, IMO, exactly equal to a well-stored and aged Cab (fill in many fav. reds), but will work. Also, some time in the glass, with a bit of swirling can do a similar thing to the wine.

                                    Most of all, glad you found one that you enjoyed, as that it the most important part of it.


                                    1. re: Bill Hunt


                                      You should give John Anthony wines a try (if you haven't already). I know they are available in AZ (check their website www.javwine.com) for sources. They make a Cab Sav ($55), a Syrah ($45), a Sav Blanc ($20) , and a late harvest Sav Blanc ($55 for a 375 ml). The Sav Blanc and Syrah are among the best I have had and the Cab Sav is also very well done.

                                      1. re: TonyO

                                        Wow, I am not familiar with John Anthony wines. On your rec., I will keep the name handy and see what I can find. I am always open to trying new wines, either varietals, regions or winemakers. All mentioned are varietals, that I love, so it is a no-brainer. Can't buy in bulk, as I just filled the last of the floorspace in the cellar and have an allocation from Biale and Benovia in transit. I cannot imagine where I'll put those. Still, a mixed case of John Anthony will fit in my "drink now" section, until I can clear some space in the cellar.


                                      2. re: Bill Hunt

                                        Thanks for the hint! I'm a swirler but not a decanter--I'll have to try it.