Our Wine Panel Reviews 48 Cabernet Sauvignons

For our latest round of reviews, we asked our national wine panel to recommend some of their favorite cabernet sauvignon.

As always, these selections include brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine’s retail price (which can vary from store to store and market to market). Unless noted otherwise, the price reflects a 750-ml. bottle. If you’re a beverage professional with a specialty in wine and you’re interested in participating in the panel, please contact managing editor Kyle Swartz at kswartz@epgmediallc.com or 203-855-8499 x2225.

Rating System

Five Stars (100-92): A top-flight wine, superior in taste and character, and providing a superior price/value ratio.

Four Stars (91-86): A very good wine and an excellent value. A wine for which customers will keep coming back.

Five Star Wines

(97) 2014 Snowden “The Ranch” Cabernet Sauvignon (California). The style is reminiscent of a good Saint-Julien, with a bouquet of wildflowers, black fruit and terroir with a hint of “cigar box.” Flavors of not-quite-ripe blueberry, currant and plum meld with lightly toasty oak notes and firm tannins. The richly textured mouth-feel is expressive of Napa, while adding to the complexity of this very structured wine. It’s a baby yet, just beginning to develop and loaded with promise. Lay it in your cellar for 5-7 years, at least. ($49.99)

(95) Chateau Ksara Cabernet 2013 (Lebanon). The 2013 vintage of Chateau Ksara Cabernet was even riper than it normally is, which lends perfectly to this Bekka Valley wine. You would believe we were in the Napa Valley if we were doing a blind tasting of this borderline-perfect cabernet. When the bottle was revealed to be from Lebanon you would spend all night having to hear the amazing story of Chateau Ksara. The disbelief that this wine was that good, and not from a wine region you would expect, makes the experience all the better. ($24.99)

(95) 2013 Miner Emily’s Cuvee’ Cabernet Sauvignon (California). The bouquet is full of lilac, black currant, lavender and sweet spices. A nice hint of coffee/mocha shows on the second sniff. There are palate-coating flavors of blueberry, currant and blackberry, with subtle hints of sweet/toasty oak. That coffee/mocha sneaks up suddenly. The finish is long with supple tannins, lively acidity and a nice touch of terroir. It’s a lovely wine, well balanced and approachable, but will cellar for several years easily. From a premier Napa winery. ($49.99)


(95) 2015 Maison Nicolas Cabernet Sauvignon (France). Maison Nicolas has been a premier shipper/importer of excellent quality, great-value French wines for years. This Pays D’OC- I.G.P. cabernet sauvignon has subtle floral aromas with nuances of currant, black cherry and plum. After a bit of aeration, some mineral notes show. On the palate, you’ll taste the aforementioned fruit flavors along with some of Languedoc’s famous terroir. Tannins are soft and in perfect balance with lively acidity on the finish. This is simply a darn good bottle of French cabernet sauvignon and an unbeatable value. ($10.99)

(95) Duckhorn Cabernet 2014 (California). Another classic cab from a Napa pioneer. Sourced from their estate fruit and eight select parcels. Bordeaux-style blend based on 83% cab. Very structured with old-world hints of graphite, dried herbs and black/red fruit. 16 months in French oak helps integrate the fruit into a long smooth lingering finish. ($74.99)

(94) Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet 2015 (California). Always a sentimental favorite. A classic Bordeaux-styled wine with 83% cab complimented with touches of merlot, cab franc, petite verdot and malbec. Very concentrated flavors. Smoky, silky and smooth on the finish. 14 months in oak only enhances the deep black cherry and plum flavors. A kiss of coffee and mocha on the nose. ($27.99)

(94) J.Lohr Hilltop Cabernet 2014 (California). This one just keeps getter better. 90% Cabernet, with a kiss of cab franc and petite verdot, and wrapped in 18 months of French oak. Deep color, lingering flavors of hazelnuts and dark chocolate . Complex, rich and full-bodied. The glass you never want to empty. ($44.99)

(94) Concha y Toro Don Melchor (Chile). Stunning, impressive over-the-top cabernet. Concentrated, rich, dark plum and chocolate that continues to open in the glass. Pleasing easy tannins on the long finish. Cellar-worthy. ($115)

(93) Hightower Estate Cabernet 2013 (Washington). Considered the best wine of the vintage for Red Mountain’s Hightower Cellars, the estate- bottled cabernet is the blockbuster everyone is expecting. Aromas of blackberry and cassis leap from the glass and lead right into an expressive, juicy palate that impresses on each sip down to the last drop. An elegant finish makes you ready for another drink! ($39.99)

(93) Casa di Terra Bolgheri Moreccio 2014 (Italy). A powerful and well-textured wine from Bolgheri that is striking because of its beautiful texture and distinct long-lasting finish. Red fruit dominated by raspberries accompanied by powerful blackberry notes and plush tannins for support. ($20)

(93) Araucano Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2015 (Chile). After lengthy research, French winemaker Francois Lurton launched his reserve series of cabernet sauvignon from the best plots in Chile’s Lolol Valley. Using environmentally friendly (biodynamic) methods, he has created a full-bodied red loaded with aromas of black fruits, plums and spice. 2015 was a hot year in the valley, contributing a ripe palate, full tannins and a touch of sweet grilled peppers on the finish. ($15)

(93) Croze Cabernet 2014 (California). Definitely a big boy from Napa. Not just Oakville, but the site-specific “Money Road” vineyard. 100% Cab, aged 24 months in French Oak. Coffee notes along with sweet cherries, mocha and dark blueberries. Rich and voluptuous. A long lingering finish, with a hint of white pepper. ($59.99)

(93) Beaulieu Vineyard Reserve Tapestry 2013 (California). A superb wine from one of Napa Valley’s oldest producers. Dark, rich, with lots of black fruit; the tannins are balanced by the superb fruit and balancing acidity. A real winner. ($65)

(93) Château Phelan Segur 2014 (France). From St.-Estephe, Bordeaux. From a well-established and highly regarded producer, from the northern reaches of the Medoc, this wine shows plenty of polish. It is well balanced, with excellent fruit, tempered by balancing acidity and tannins. Delicious now, patience will be rewarded by cellaring for a few years. ($45)

(93) Beringer Knights Valley Reserve 2014 (California). Powerful, with lots of poise and energy, this is a serious bottle of wine. Lush fruit and good tannins add to the power, and the acidity keeps everything balanced. A long elegant finish confirms the pedigree of this Napa cab. ($70)

(93) Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (California). An exceptionally elegant style of Napa cabernet. Notes of red fruit, along with darker aspects, contribute to its accessibility and charm. Truly delicious now, but a little time in the cellar will pay off. ($39.99)

(93) Rock View Cabernet 2015 (California). From Alexander Valley, an intense wine that is packed with opulent notes of black cherry, red currant and a hint grilled meat. The 2015 is complex and energetic, a classic cabernet from an underrated appellation. ($31)

(92) Michael David Winery Freakshow Cabernet 2014 (California). Consistent quality year after year. Well-balanced aromas and flavors of deep ripe fruit, dark chocolate mousse and easy oak. ($18.99)

(92) Ranch House Cabernet 2015 (California). Extremely enjoyable and classic Napa in its approach, with varietal-specific, terroir-driven slight mint notes. The red fruit-forward raspberry and sour-cherry savory notes are the backbone of the wine. ($26)

(92) Northstar Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (Washington). More lithe than muscular; supple yet powerful. Plenty of black fruit in this Columbia Valley wine, tempered by acidity and tannins. Ready to go now, but you should set a few bottles aside to enjoy after it’s spent some time resting in the cellar. ($40)

(92) Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (California). From one of Napa Valley’s most reliably consistent producers. Well balanced, with an elegant and long finish. The dark fruit is evident, from the bouquet through the last sip. A great food-wine. ($55)

(92) William Randell Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (Australia). From one of Australia’s unsung wine heroes. Powerful and lush, yet with good acidity and ripe tannins. An excellent example of high-end Australian winemaking, from Eden Valley. ($49.95)

(92) Vistamar Cabernet Syrah Grand Reserva 2014 (Chile). This dark, purple-hued wine from Maipo is a powerhouse, and has a soft lengthy finish. Full body, blackberries and some sour cherries blend nicely with subtle vanilla notes. ($17)

(92) Pine Ridge 2014 (California). The aromas of black raspberry and ripe plum lead to a big, luscious and complex wine. Dark ripe cherry, white pepper, dried herbs and integrated oak in this Napa release. ($57.95)

(92) Jigar Dry Creek Valley Cabernet 2014 (California). Dry Creek Valley produces some great cabs, and this one over delivers. 100% cab sourced from the Mizany vineyard 30-year-old vines. Very aromatic on the nose with soft floral notes. Hints of coffee, allspice and dark chocolate lead to a powerful rich finish. Only 1,176 cases produced, and well worth the hunt to find this little gem. ($24.99)

(92) Rock Horse Ranch Cabernet 2014 (Washington). Natalies Estate winemaker Boyd Teagarden decided to make a second label from his estate project and Rock Horse Ranch was born. Higher alcohol and more fruit-driven than his estate wines, but so well balanced that you would be shocked by the over-15% alcohol as it’s labeled — the mark of a great winemaker. The essence of Columbia Valley is captured in this glass of cabernet. Enjoy. ($24.99)

(92) Courtney Benham Cabernet 2014 (California). This full-bodied Napa cabernet has rich black berry, raspberry and ripe cherry notes. The texture is smooth and complex with a lasting fruit packed tannic finish. ($25)

Four Star Wines

(91) Owl Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (California). This Lake County wine is balanced, approachable and fruit-forward, but also has a distinct spice box note that is impressive and intricate. Red fruit raspberry notes blend nicely with black cherries and pepper notes. ($18)

(91) Sextant Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (California). Bold and full-bodied, with primary notes of black berries and dark cherries leading into a smooth texture and chocolate notes. A mouth-filling Paso Robles wine that has tannins that grip and grip, and is well oaked to stand up to the power. ($21)

(91) Disruption Cabernet 2014 (Washington). Great value. Loaded with delicious black currant, black cherry and violet undertones. Medium bodied and well balanced. ($16.99)

(91) Victor Hugo Cabernet 2014 (California). Keeping it simple and letting his estate fruit speak is what Vic Roberts does best. From Templeton Gap, Paso Robles. Classic 88/12 blend of cab and merlot, aged 24 months in French and Hungarian oak. Very approachable, with great structure. Plum, cherries, cinnamon and dark chocolate notes. Roughly 500 cases produced. ($29.99)

(91) 19 Crimes Cabernet 2016 (Australia). Fun and easy drinking. Deep and dark red, with aromas of black cherry, ripe plum and vanilla. Easy fruity finish makes this a crowd-pleaser. ($10)

(91) Pietro Marini Cabernet 2014 (Argentina). A wonderfully balanced cabernet from Salta that is just fruit-forward enough to please the newworld drinker, and reserved enough to attract the old-world drinker. Lovely red fruits abound from this stellar value cabernet. ($14.99)

(91) Columbia Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (Washington). From one of Washington’s pioneering wineries. Very enjoyable, with supple dark fruit, and lush style tannins. This well-balanced cabernet is an excellent value at this price/performance. ($16)

(91) Terre More Cabernet 2014 (Italy). From the home of Super Tuscans, this cabernet exemplifies balance and harmony in a red wine. Good black and red fruit, with a long lingering finish. Enjoy it with a wide range of dishes. ($18)

(91) Los Boldos Cabernet Gran Reserva 2015 (Agentina). A powerful and rich wine, with notes of spice and earthy garigue to bold raspberry and blackberry flavors. Dark chocolate and oak notes accompany the fruit on the finish. ($19)

(91) Atrevida Cabernet 2015 (Argentina). This cabernet has a powerful nose, with notes of raspberries and even a touch of mint. Savory acidity provides freshness and subtle oak treatment for balance. The wine is medium-bodied and rich in complexities on the mid-palate and finish. ($17)

(91) Murray Cabernet 2014 (Washington). The addition of malbec and merlot to this Red Mountain cabernet adds character, complexity and depth without losing the identity of cabernet sauvignon. Hightower cellars outdid themselves with their Murray label Cabernet. ($21.99)

(91) Cross Springs Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (California). This Cabernet is full bodied, textured and concentrated, brimming with black cherry, wild berry, black licorice, sage and currant flavors. The finish is supple and smooth, with just enough spice and tannins. ($17)

(90) Gnarly Head Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (California). Bold, red fruit aromas and some hints of vanilla are present on the nose. Boasting supple cherry with hints of leather, tobacco and spice on the palate, this 2014 cabernet is certainly a great value for it’s modest price range. ($12)

(90) Cruz Alta Cabernet Grand Reserve 2013 (Agentina). A dark fruit-forward cabernet with nice notes of black pepper and silky texture. Full bodied with richness from start to finish that is balanced out by subtle oak notes. ($17)

(90) Los Boldos Cabernet Tradition 2016 (Agentina). Intense wine with bold dark cherry and raspberry notes. The nose and the palate are similar and the fruit-forward notes blend nicely. This is a spice-laden full-bodied wine with rustic tannins. ($14)

(90) CanvasBack Cabernet 2014 (Washington). Starting from scratch in 2013, this Duckhorn offering from Washington’s famed Red Mt. appellation keeps getting better and better. Mountain fruit from 13 other select parcels adds to the complexity. Classic Bordeaux-style blend is very harmonious and structured. 18 months in oak helps to soften the very concentrated fruit. Wild red and black fruit notes dominate, with a finish like a caramel macchiato. ($49.99)

(90) Santa Julia Reserva 2015 (Agentina). From the Zuccardi family, this wine demonstrates the reason that they are held in such high esteem. The firm tannins act as a balance with the lovely dark fruit. The finish is long and satisfying. ($13)

(90) Camp Cabernet 2016 (California). Sourced from mainly organic vineyards in Sonoma County, Camp Cabernet is a hidden gem in the under-$20 California cabernet world. A touch of merlot and malbec round out this fruit-forward-yet-restrained cabernet. The aging in neutral oak lets the fruit sing — and it shows. ($18.99)

(90) Barra Cabernet 2014 (California). A certified organic winery in Mendocino County, Barra makes plenty of wonderful wines and their cabernet is no exception. Dark, chocolate- covered cherries abound as this fruit-forward, crowd-pleasing cabernet leaps from the glass with fruit, fruit and more fruit! This is a cabernet-drinker’s cabernet — for under $20. ($19.99)

(90) No Curfew Cabernet 2015 (California). A powerhouse cabernet that is savory and fruit-focused. Approachable, youthful, yet integrated flavors of black cherry, plumb and blueberries work very well with this cabernet. ($17)

(90) Textbook 2013 (California). Sourced from three sites in Napa; French Oak gives this wine a superb polished palate. Red and black berries persist through well-integrated tannins on to the finish. Supple and smooth with a hint of spice. ($29.95)

Kyle Swartz is managing editor of StateWays.


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