Cabernet Sauvignon: Articles on the Cabernet Sauvignon Red Wine Grape Varietal

Which California Cabernet Sauvignons Deserve "First Growth" Status?

In 1855, the Exposition Universelle was held in Paris to showcase all that was good in France.  Emperor Napoleon III requested the leading Bordeaux merchants to rank the best wines.  The top wines were rated as First Growths.  Over the years, many people in the rest of the world have discussed what wines from their country would be First Growths.  I am often asked what I think the First Growths of California are.  It is an interesting conversation with lots of room for debate.

Ten California Cabernet Sauvignons for the Money

California Cabernets are some of the best wines in the world.  Unfortunately, the pricing on many of them has gotten quite exorbitant.  There are a plethora of great wines for $100 or more.  Even at the $75 mark, there is no shortage of outstanding wines.  So, for purposes of this list, these are my favorite five California Cabernets priced at under $25 per bottle.  In addition, I only chose wines that are very consistent from vintage to vintage.  Finally, I have avoided rare and hard to find wines for this list. 

Creating Pedigree: Cabernet and Paso Robles

Napa lays claim to Cabernet Sauvignon like they invented it. Certainly they are dominant region where it’s grown in the U.S., but Paso Robles is positioning itself to give Napa a run for its money and this central California region is producing Cabernet and Bordeaux blends offering incredible value and diversity, something Napa has strayed from.

Top 50 California Cabernet Sauvignons to Try Before You Quit Drinking (a non-dump bucket list if you will!)

In putting together a list of the top California Cabernets, there is sure to be some disagreement.  I tried to include those wines that have a track record, the wineries still making great wines, those that seemed to have the commitment for the future and some personal favorites.  I am sure I left some out.

1. Shafer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select – It’s always hard to name the number one wine.  But this has a track record that’s very long.  Even in less than stellar vintages, it is an outstanding wine.  They just don’t seem to make a dud.  My only complaint is the price at over $200 a bottle.  But, in comparison to other Napa Cabs or elsewhere in the world, this is a fair price. 

Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Foods to Pair and Meals That Call for Napa Cabernet

Napa Valley Cabernet—the wine that proved to the world it was possible to make world-class wine someplace other than France. When Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars’ 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon beat famous French Bordeaux such as Château Mouton Rothschild and Château Haut-Brion, among others, in a blind tasting conducted by French wine experts at the now famous 1976 Paris Tasting, the world took notice. Now Napa Valley Cabernets are served everywhere, and producers like Heitz Cellars and Ridge Vineyards are familiar names on restaurant wine lists.

Wines to Go Buy This Week: "Comfort Wines" - A Zinfandel by Glenn Hawk and Tulip Hill's Cabepulciano (yeah you read that right)

I live in San Francisco and January weather here means 50 degrees and rain. Constant bone-chilling rain, or so it seems. And before the rest of America emails to remind me how good I have it and how freaking cold it is in New York or Ohio or whatever other frozen tundra they call home, I'm just gonna say that when you are cold, you are cold, and comfort food -and comfort wine- goes a long way towards warming your heart when Old Man Winter starts to have his way with you. So with this in mind, I bring you two comfort wines you should go buy this week.   

Glenn Hawk Zinfandel - I typically don't gravitate to Zinfandel. I associate Zins with "cocktail wines", that is, wines that are delicious for a few sips of a single glass but can be a bit too fruity and overwhelming for those of us who tend towards enjoying multiple glasses. So I don't recommend many Zinfandels simply because I don't drink many of them. Every once in a while I stumble back down the Zinfandel path and am reminded of how good the varietal can be. I recently tried the 2009 Glenn Hawk Zinfandel from Livermore Valley (just south of Napa in the shadow of Mt. Diablo).

Cabernet Sauvignon and Steak: A Wine & Food Pairing Miracle

I keep my wine cabinet at home generously stocked with Cabernet Sauvignon.  And not always, but probably more than 50% of the time, when a special occasion calls for a special bottle of wine, it’s cabernet that I’m reaching for.  Now, lovers of other varietals, please don’t be offended.  I too, love my pinots and barbaras, my chardonarys and sauvignon blancs, zins and merlots, malbecs and granach…but there is just something so decadent, so elegant, and frankly so delicious about a cabernet.

Perhaps it’s the association that cabernet has with another of my favorite consumables…a finely cooked steak.  Together, the two can perform miracles.  Now, I have to admit that I initially paired the two out a sense of conformity…after all the old saying goes Red Wine with Red Meat.  Growth in both food & wine experience has gotten me more than comfortable throwing that rule out the window, but perhaps at the extremes, there is some merit there.  While there are many red/white combos what work splendidly, I have to admit that I’m not often pulling out a pinot grigio to drink with my ribeye, gratin potatoes, and creamed spinach.  There are very legitimate reasons cabernet sauvignon and steak go so well together, for me, two are key:

Wines to Go Buy This Week: Chateau Bonnet White Bordeaux and Clark-Claudon Cabernet Sauvignon

Wines to Go Buy This Week: A Crisp Summer White Blend by Chateau Bonnet and a Complex Napa Cabernet by Clark-Claudon Vineyards

Labor Day weekend is here and people across the US are gathering to toast the end of summer. As Labor Day marks the tipping point between hot summer nights and cool autumn evenings, my wine recommendations this week will focus on both a cool, refreshing summer sauvignon blanc to savor on these last days of summer and a full bodied Napa cabernet for those upcoming autumn evenings by the fireplace. So as we say farewell to summer 2011, here are two wines to go buy this week:

Chateau Bonnet LabelChateau Bonnett Entre-Deux-Mers Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Muscadelle Andre Lurton, 2010 - Now say that 5 times fast! A quick lesson for those of you who are unfamiliar with French wine: The French label their wines slightly different than we do in the US as they emphasize the place more so than the grape varietal or the producer. In this case, the vineyards and winery are located at Chateau Bonnet, the region is the Entre-Deux-Mers appellation of Bordeaux, the grapes are a blend of sauvignon blanc, semillon, and muscadelle, and the producer is André Lurton, whose family has presided over the vineyards for over 100 years. White Bordeaux is almost always a blend of primarily semillon and sauvignon blanc, with a few other varietals permitted. So why do I like this wine? It's light, crisp, low in alcohol (12%) and at approx $15 a bottle, a fantastic way to introduce yourself to a white bordeaux without breaking the bank. This wine is ideal for a warm end-of-summer picnic that calls for a cool refreshing beverage.

Napa Cabernet Vintage Chart

Update: IntoWine has partnered with the California Wine Club to offer you great deals on 

Tangent Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 - IntoWineTV Episode 140

"Cult Wines of Crushpad" - IntoWineTV host Lisa Kolenda and wine experts Bartholomew Broadbent and Loren Sonkin convene among the vines at Crushpad in Napa Valley to taste and discuss the cult wine brands of Crushpad.

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