There’s a reason that Cabernet Sauvignon appeals to such a broad range of wine lovers: it’s delicious and reliable. While it can range from medium to full bodied, or elegant to bold, it nearly always offers dark fruit and velvety tannins. What’s even better is that Cabernet is a wine that is available at a variety of price points, so there’s something for every budget. Here are seven of the Cabernet Sauvignon that experts keep on hand.
7 Cabernet Sauvignon to try:
Longevity wines started out as a pet project for winemaker Phil Long and his late wife Debra. Initially, the couple made Syrah out of their garage in California’s famous Napa Valley. In 2008, with the support of their family and many of their friends in the wine community, they launched their brand with a lineup of wine varieties including this Cabernet. “It is just everything I love about a Cabernet,” says Alexandra Schrecengost, CEO of Virtual With Us and Culture With Us. “Super rustic, deep, and slightly rough around the edges, with dried cherries, plums, black licorice, and pomegranates, complemented with cocoa notes and well-integrated tannins. The finish is nice and long, all things reminiscent of a cozy winter.”
Sommelier and Sommation contributor Hai Tran says this is a “brilliantly restrained and fresh interpretation of Cabernet Sauvignon that delivers a lot of complexity and flavor to the glass.” It’s produced by Clos des Fous, launched in 2008 by four winemaking friends — Pedro Parra, Francois Massoc, Paco Leyton, and Albert Cussen. Grown in Alto Cachapoal in the Rapel Valley, which sits in the foothills of Chile’s Andes mountain range, grapes for this wine get plenty of direct sunlight during the day. Meanwhile cool, windy nights help the grapes develop a fresh acidity that shines brightly in the glass, along with nuances of cassis, blackberry, and baking spices. Tran says this is just one of the wines in the Clos des Fous portfolio that “highlights the extreme terroirs of Chile and the varieties that can succeed there.”
Another recommendation from Tran is this South African Cabernet from Stellenbosch, which he says is a beautiful introduction to what the area has to offer. “Showcasing an amazing concentration of fresh fruit, underlined by savory notes of dried herbs and tobacco that is uplifted by its acidity, this has everything and anything a New World Cabernet drinker would want in a glass,” he says. Glenelly Estate has been in operation in Stellenbosch since the property was purchased in 2003 by May-Éliane de Lencquesaing, who comes from a family with more than 250 years of winemaking experience. “This has always been a fun one to bring to the table and surprise many of my guests’ palates with when I reveal where the wine comes from,” says Tran.
This complex Cabernet Sauvignon hails from Coonawarra, a wine region in South Australia. Produced by winemakers, Kate Goodman and Lauren Hansen, it features luscious flavors of plum and blackberry, a sprinkle of cocoa, and supple tannins, resulting in a wine that is “super fruity but also savory,” says Kendeigh Worden, a sommelier who runs the wine education blog, The Grape Grind. “Hearty and juicy at the same time. The fruit is intense and the structure is milder. It’s really easy drinking for Cabernet,” she adds.
Is lamb on the menu? This is a Cabernet that works well with a variety of foods, particularly red meats. “This wine has a perfect mix of bright, jammy, dark fruit, such as black cherry and cassis, with great herbal notes and hints of smoke,” says Wendy Shoemaker, Advanced Sommelier and a Virtual With Us sommelier contributor. The wine is one of the few produced by André Hueston Mack as part of a special project supporting his T-shirt collection and Oregon wines. Mack, who started his career as a sommelier, is also the owner and head winemaker for Maison Noir Wines.
One of the preeminent producers of Cabernet Sauvignon in Paso Robles, California, is DAOU Vineyards, owned and established by winemaker Daniel Daou and his brother George Daou. The winery, perched atop DAOU Mountain, makes fine wines in a variety of price points, but every bottling comes with DAOU’s signature power, punch, and flavor. “This wine is a hurricane of lush fruit, complexity, and balanced oak,” says Ian O’Reilly, an Advanced Sommelier and logistics manager at Berkeley and Stuart Wine Company. He adds, “It will pair beautifully with any grilled or roasted meats this holiday season.”
Named the Best in Class at the 2021 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, this Cabernet hails from California’s Sonoma region. Trentadue was first established in the late 1950s by Italian ranchers and married couple, Evelyn and Leo Trentadue, but today Bulgarian native, Miro Tcholakov, brings his expertise to the winery as head winemaker. Though this wine is every bit of an American Cab, it has a “European sensibility to it,” according to Jeff Harding, sommelier and beverage director at The Waverly Inn. “It’s not just over-the-top voluptuous fruit, there are some layers and Old World earthiness to it. It pleases the Bordeaux drinker and the Napa drinker. And although you’re paying for Sonoma wine, you still get that Napa and Bordeaux quality,” he says.