Cabernet Sauvignon is the most popular red grape varietal in the United States, and for good reason: With flavor notes that range from green pepper to dark cherry and leather, it’s versatile and pairs as well with a fine dry-aged steak as it does a weeknight pasta dish. And while younger Cabernet Sauvignons are enjoyed for their bold acidity and tannins, those who prefer mellower, subtle red wines will find a lot to love in older vintages.
Of course, with popularity comes a wide variety of producers and prices, which can make deciding on a bottle particularly challenging.
To help, we’ve rounded up the best Cabernet Sauvignons that we’ve tried in the last six months. The wines on this list all scored a B+ or higher in our wine reviews, and are arranged by score and price. There are a few worthy splurges, but many fit comfortably in the $20 to $50 range, and there are also some surprising bargains to be had — proving that great Cabernet Sauvignon can be enjoyed on any budget.
Here are 25 of the best Cabernet Sauvignons you can buy right now, with reviews by VinePair Tastings Director Keith Beavers.
Château Batailley Grand Cru Classé 2015 (A+) ($81.00)
This is an all-caps stellar wine from Pauillac and it’s under $100! I feel this wine has a soul and when you pour a glass it offers it for you to enjoy. It is deep, full-bodied, and extremely elegant. The acidity is perfect and the interwoven tannins hold together its impeccable structure. The nose has descriptors, for sure — black currant, leather, tobacco, white pepper — but all that matters is the sum of those parts coming together and physically affecting your posture as you take it in. This bottle is why we humans fall in love with wine and it still has years to evolve.
Clos du Val Winemaker’s Signature Series Three Graces Red Blend 2016 (A+) ($170.00)
The legacy of fine wine in Napa Valley is highly maintained here. This is an incredible bottle with brooding dark berry and smoked salt aromas. In terms of structure, it’s the definition of full-bodied with seamless tannins still folding into the wine. This is the kind of wine that hits your palate and you can’t help but pause and enjoy the moment before you take the next sip. It’s more than the price of a pair of AirPods but damn is it amaze.
Long Meadow Ranch Farmstead Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (A) ($31.00)
This is one of the most balanced Cabs I have tasted in a while from Napa Valley. Guys, throw your money at this wine if you dig that extremely balanced style without being kicked in the face by oak and vanilla. The fruit is focused, and the tannins are woven in. It’s young, and can age, but dammit it is singing now! If you have to buy this wine online, cuz it’s not widely available, just do it. Treat yourself and good friends.
Niner Wine Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (A) ($35.00)
This is a big, bold Cab with bountiful acidity that keeps things lively on the palate. It’s kinda plush for a Cali Cab and has a soft nose that will remind you of blackberries and soil. Tannins are present but seamlessly integrated, forming a solid framework. This is the wine you pop with good friends and a big steak.
Château Rauzan-Ségla ‘Segla’ 2012 (A) ($52.00)
This is a great Bordeaux wine that will help you get into this fine wine region without losing your rent money. It is simultaneously powerful and elegant, with a nice density on the palate balanced by racy acidity that keeps things buoyant. The nose will remind you of aged balsamic flecked with pepper and a side of wild berry compote. On the palate, there’s a delicious steak tartare note, which is probably what you should be pairing it with.
Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (A) ($59.00)
These days Cali Cabs are powerful, but can lack elegance. This wine is up there in price, but is one of the most powerful, yet elegant wines from Napa. The power of this wine lies in the depth of fruit and well-integrated tannin, forming a confident structure. The elegance resides in the vibrant acidity winding through the wine, allowing you to experience the classic aromas of Cabernet Sauvignon: plum, blackberry, and cracked black pepper. On the palate these two elements are in harmony, adding some cassis and currant notes. The tannin grips the edges, letting the core fruit settle calmly on the palate. This wine is special, and worthy of a night with good friends.
Jordan Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (A) ($66.00)
This wine is a bit funky when you open it but, like science, it blows off with a swirl, opening everything up. This is a very savory Cab; you can smell the classic stuff like blackberry and cracked black pepper, but it will also remind you of miso and tart balsamic. Then, on the palate, it all comes together, harmonizing into a beautiful, full-bodied, toothsome, soulful Cab that is worthy of the Valley on the label.
Freemark Abbey Sycamore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (A) ($146.00)
This wine shows the full power of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s dark and brooding and deserves descriptors such as: dense aromas of mocha and blackberries with slight hints of white and black pepper. All this means that this bottle is straight-up amazing. It has a rustic edge on the palate that will only soften over another year or so. If you’re going to spend this much money on Napa, please consider this bottle and buy the most expensive cut of meat you can afford.
Cecchi La Mora Maremma Toscana 2015 (A-) ($13.00)
The success of this wine lies in the price. Not often can you find a wine this balanced and awesome at $13, but man, does this bottle deliver. It has the soft, plush fruit of the Merlot, contrasted by the grippy tannins and peppery notes of the Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a dry red wine, meaning the astringency of the wine greets you first, then all the awesome fruit. Buy a case or two of this wine and have it on hand for whatever; everyone is going to dig it.
Aia Vecchia Lagone Toscana IGT 2016 (A-) ($16.00)
Bringing Cabernet Franc into this blend does wonders for the wine. It brightens up the Cabernet Sauvignon and adds a juiciness to the Merlot. The nose benefits as well, showing cherry notes and some fresh-turned soil, giving it a nice earthy depth while not weighing you down. This is the perfect wine to have on a pasta night with family or friends or bring to a dinner party. Everyone will dig it.
Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (A-) ($21.00)
This is really cool, because you get a lot of the structure and aromas you would from a more expensive Cali Cab, but are paying half price. It’s not as textured as a fine wine, but has soft, well-integrated tannin, and balanced blackberry, and No.2 Pencil (graphite) aromas. It sets into the palate with medium acidity, allowing you to perceive its broad depth. At just over $20 this could be a solid weeknight steak dinner wine, or even a legit dinner party wine. It has all the characteristics for a crowd-pleasing American Cab.
Eberle Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (A-) ($44.00)
So balanced and grippy with a tight fruit core that you wanna chew on. The tannins are still a bit angry around the edges but define the frame of the wine. You can tell that in a couple of years this wine is going to shine like a superstar, but it is still drinking nice and juicy now. It’s under $50 and definitely worth laying down for a minute or four. But also consider this an awesome bottle to gift to a fellow wine lover or even impress the parents.
Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (A-) ($44.00)
The cool thing about this wine is that it won’t cost you too much, and you still get some seriously powerful Cali Cab vibes. This bottle is still aging, but is showing some awesome right now. It has nice tight fruit, with classic aromas that will remind you of cherries (maybe even cranberries), a forest in October, and a whiff of cracked black pepper. The tannins are young and dry, but create a nice framework for the fruit. It’s such a nice, balanced wine, and would kill as a gift to impress the boss or maybe an in-law.
Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite Legende R Pauillac 2015 (A-) ($48.00)
O.K., it’s pricey, but hey, that’s why we’re here: to help you enjoy your purchase. This bottle is widely available and an excellent example of the awesome of Pauillac. Wines from this sub-region of Bordeaux are fun cuz they drink well young, but also age for a really long time. The nose is alive with aromas that will remind you of blackberry jam and fresh-cracked black pepper along with an iron whiff you get from a fresh cut of meat. The palate, you could just chew on. It’s juicy and savory, begging for a lean steak or a stinky cheese plate. Share with good friends who dig this kind of stuff and you’ll just win all night.
Mazzei ‘Philip’ Rosso Toscana IGT 2014 (A-) ($50.00)
All kinds of cool stuff here. The dude, Philip, the wine is named after was Thomas Jefferson’s winemaker, so that’s awesome. And Cabernet Sauvignon is what good ol’ Philip Mazzei was charged with making. For an Italian Cab it’s soft and deep, with good dark fruit and a nice, firm tannic grip. This would jive with some steak or even a big pile of pasta with red sauce and some bolognese. OH!
Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (B+) ($10.00)
You just can’t go wrong here. The wine is $10 and solid. It has nice medium fruit and not a ton of oak. The acidity is right, making it not too heavy. Yo, I’m thinking you should get a case of this wine to have laying around for spontaneity or to pull from when you’re on your way to a cookout, a casual dinner party, or even game night with pizza. It’s a legit go-to definitely.
Taylors Wakefield Promised Land Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (B+) ($13.00)
For less than $20 this is a damn gem. It’s soft and rich, with the tannin woven right in, adding to the all-around structure. It has a fun nose of classic black pepper, but with a juicy vibe that’ll remind you of blackberries and espresso. If you are a big griller, this is a great wine to have on offer at your next BBQ.
Louis M. Martini Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (B+) ($16.00)
If you like having wine on hand just in case a get-together spontaneously emerges, here is a good one to buy a case of for red lovers in your posse. It’s under $20 with proper California Cab vibes of plum and blackberry fruit aromas framed by a well-woven tannin structure promoting some wafts of black pepper. It’s nice to know that there is a wine out there that is widely available, won’t break the bank, and tastes legit.
Angelo Innocenti Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (B+) ($17.00)
This is a hell of a deal. It’s less than $20 and solid AF. It’s full-bodied, but soft and peppery, with comfy earthy smells that will remind you of wild blackberries and a forest in October. The palate is smooth and the drying tannins are not even perceptible. Wine at this price shouldn’t be this complex, but here we are. Bring this to ANYTHING. I mean, name it. BBQ, Netflix pajama jammy jam, pizza party, burger party, pool party, wine and cheese night. Like, anything. It’s also a crowd pleaser.
Tenuta dei Sette Cieli ‘Yantra’ Toscana IGT 2018 (B+) ($23.00)
This is a fun alternative if you dig Bordeaux blends or red blends. It’s medium- to full-bodied with nice tight fruit. The intense oak you’re used to will not be apparent here, but you get more complexity. The acidity keeps the fruit tart and the body in balance, making it a great wine for a lean steak like skirt.
Dueling Pistols 2016 (B+) ($47.00)
This wine is soft and powerful. It has a luscious, juicy core with tannins that are so woven in you won’t feel them but will know they’re there when they whisper to you in the finish. It’ll definitely pair well with some roasted chicken or steak, but damn, I dunno, that might take away from the wine’s awesome.
Galerie Wines ‘Plenair’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (B+) ($53.00)
It’s big and oaky. The fruit is rich and tart; you’ll smack your lips for real. The tannins are subtle at first but then they settle in, giving the wine a nice long finish. It could use maybe one more year in bottle to soften up a bit, but this is a typical steakhouse red that you can bring to the parents or gift the boss.
Taub Family Vineyards Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (B+) ($56.00)
This is such a classic California Cab, but it’s not ready yet. The core of the fruit is shy right now, not showing its full blackberry-rich awesomeness. And these crazy tannins need to straight-up chill for a minute (O.K., maybe a year) so this wine can shine. This is a great gift for the boss (or yourself) and a home run for dinner with the parents.
Jamieson Ranch Vineyards ‘Versada’ Red 2017 (B+) ($65.00)
It’s pricey, but balanced, and worth your money if you’re diggin’ on this red blend trend we are in right now. This is a powerful wine with good acidity, and softened tannins. It’s young but smooth and drinking well now. This bottle has harmony and will please multiple palates, making it a great wine to share with good friends.
The article The 25 Best Cabernet Sauvignons for 2020 appeared first on VinePair.