With the summer's heat on full blast you might be asking why I’m reviewing red wines instead of something cool, crisp and refreshing, and Cabernets to boot! Well, the truth is that plenty of folks out there enjoy a nice Cabernet this time of year. Think about it, what could be better with a steak off the grill, or better yet a lamb top round, or even grilled portobello caps?
 
Truth is while this is not the best weather for a big, bold red wine, it’s perfect weather for something a little simpler. A solid Cab served slightly chilled, say right around 60 to 65 degrees. While this might be a bit on the cool side, accentuating the wine's tannin, it makes for a refreshing accompaniment to that steak, or just an evening on the patio enjoying the heat of the day at it relents to cooler nighttime temperatures. So here’s a roundup of value priced Cabernets, the best of which are on the lighter side with a freshness that's conducive to enjoyment at a refreshing temperature.
 
 
Just as a test I snuck in one wine that is over $25 and another wine that is $20, and wouldn’t you know it but the top three scoring wines were three of the most expensive wines of the tasting, which of course proves very little. In fact the best wines out of this bunch for summertime drinking  don’t even include the top rated 2010 Murphy-Goode Dealer’s Choice Cabernet. It’s an excellent wine, just a bit more than I want in my glass these days. It’s better saved for cooler weather as you enjoy the rest of the top wines here while we wait for that to come.
 
Which of course brings be to the video portion of our show. once again I’m here to tell you that the “best” wine isn’t always the best wine every time. Wine scores are a shorthand and they can’t fill you in on all the details. I loved the 2009 Barra Cabernet but if I had friends over and wanted a nice Cabernet to serve on the patio with a little chill I’d be opting for either the 2010 Kenwood or Lapostolle Casa Cabernets. They are lovely smaller scaled wines that are friendly and easy drinking and sometimes that makes a wine nearly perfect, no matter what the score says.




 
Oaky and dark on the nose with some licorice tones backing up the herb framed toasty nose which shows burnt orange rind and wild cherry fruit all topped with a bit of fresh mint. Just a touch chunky on entry, this needs some time to fully integrate but the acid and slightly angular tannins really fill out the mouth nicely. The fruit has a light raspberry preserve edge to it but remains clear on the palate and fairly zesty with integrated herbal spice notes adding detail and some walnutty oak leading to a moderately long oak tannin and wild red berry fruit finish. Smooth, polished and well balanced. 89pts
 
 
Tight on the nose with a touch of creamy cafe au lait under the core of gentle red fruit with some mint and nutty top notes.  This is lush and slightly sweet on entry with nice acidity lending freshness and excellent clarity to the palate.The fruit leans towards the black raspberry range of the spectrum and this shows impressive ifs subtle complexity with subtle, toast, herbal and almost tomato fruit character that extends across the fairly long finish. This feels great in the mouth and really has a lovely flavor profile. 88pts
 
 
Nutty and toasty on the nose, this shows fine mineral, tomato leaf and fine red fruits. A touch sweet on entry, this is pretty powerful and opulent in the mouth though the fruit, tart red berried and slightly herbal. has a lovely fresh feel. The oak here is obvious if not intrusive with dusty tannins lingering on the back end and through the long, tart, oak driven finish. Still this is yummy even if it needs a year or more to fully integrate the oak. 88pts
 
 
This offers up a lovely blend of black fruit, dried herb and fairly assertive smoky oak on the nose, with the herbal note remaining quite dominant. Smooth, polished and easy drinking, the oak is quite well integrates on the plummy, black currant driven palate that shows excellent clarity of flavor, though it does come off as a touch candied in the mouth before yielding to  well structured though fairly dry, long finish. 87pts
 
 
Oddly floral and slightly tarry on the nose, this shows noticeably French oak under that floral and spicy fruit. A little sweet on entry, this is smooth, rich and polished with an initial rush of sweet toasty oak followed by jammy strawberry and blackberry fruit that in turn yields to dark, tarry, oily spice notes on the backend and through the long, spicy and slightly hot finish. A rather imposing wine with well managed oak though I do wish this showed more depth and brightness to the fruit. Nonetheless, once you get past the nose and a little lactic quality on the palate, this is pretty suave and certainly holds broad appeal. 87pts
 
2010 Lapostolle Casa Cabernet Sauvignon Rapel Valley Chile 12.8% $13
 
Nice herbal notes greet the nose along with a hint of smoky, some fresh tomato and hints of red currant fruit. A bit light but very fresh on entry, this shows a little wood toast early in the mouth with some small yet hard tannins before revealing a modest core of earth tinged plum skin and black currant fruit. The finish is light and fresh with some gentle tannins adding a bit of length. Balanced, dry and in its style quite easy to drink, this is a lovely, simple Cabernet. 86pts
 
 
Smoky with a bit of pickle barrel on the nose and lots of dried herbs with just a base note of red fruit. Pretty fruity on entry and with just a hint of RS adding emphasis to the sprightly red berry fruit. The tannins here are a touch hard just the fruit works well on the modest finish which shows nice refreshing acids and some strawberry tones that linger on the palate. This is round, juicy and a little rustic but kind of fun to drink. 86pts
 
 
A fair amount of toasty oak greets the nose along with lots of dried herb character and black currant fruit. This is smooth and fairly opulent in the mouth with a nice base of rather well managed tannins and good acidity that supports lots of plummy and black currant fruit. This turns a bit extracted and bitter on the long finish. This has a certain blend of polish and extraction that will appeal to many but come off clumsily to me. 86pts
 
 
A bit reticent on the nose with some pencil shavings and lots of tart red fruit. A bit soft in the mouth and broad. lacking a bit of acidic brightness though this does deliver lots of black cherry and black currant fruit with a nice toasty oak base note and some peppery spice on the backend. The finish is almost non-existent with dry powdery tannins being the main feature. This is easy drinking and easy to understand but a bit ordinary. 83pts
 
 
Lots of herb and cedar greets the nose with a sweet, toasty campfire tone tone to the wood that includes a bit of marshmallow. Sweet and almost soft, this has enough acid to lend a tart character to the modest mid-palate which shows lots of simple sweet red cherry fruit, a bit of overt oak, and some herbal character, all of which disappears quickly on the brief finish. 78pts
 
 
Smoke, and twigs, and other subtle notes of decomp all come together here in a harsh and artificial way with a vanilla top coat. Moderately better in the mouth, this is a bit viscous, sweet and toasty with lots of weird artificial grapy fruit and an undercurrent of bitterness that vies with sweetness for your attention on the too long finish. 75pts