Great Cabernet $50 to $75

Some great wines but for whom? And for when?

Rather oaky on the nose with a deep base of earth and black spice. In the mouth this shows off juicy acids and soft tannins that help to support fruit that is perhaps a touch simple but very precise and clear all mineral tinged and slightly orange toned black currant and wild blackberry fruit. This has a fabulous texture, fresh and old school with fine soil and subtle oak accents on the moderately long, persistently fruity finish. I love this, it’s a departure from wines at this price point to be sure but it’s so paradoxical. Firm yet transparent, fruity yet savory and complex and so detailed in the mouth. It’s shows a hint of heat but I’ll forgive it. I would love to revisit this in 3 to 5 years. 91pts
Leafy, rich and earthy on the nose with gentle shadings of fading oak laying under smoky blackberry fruit, framed with gentle mushroom notes. Smooth, medium full bodied and a little spicy in the mouth with a fine base of softened tannins supporting complex earth and tea inflected black currant fruit. This remains youthful, if showing the early signs of ageing and finishes with earth, mineral and subtle mushroom notes wrapped up in rather bright fruit. the oak is more prominent on the finish which also shows a touch of heat on the finale. Edgy and old worldy. 91pts
Smoky, earthy and a bit fudgy on the nose with a fine floral aspect and some gentle meaty notes. Subtle, low and soft on entry with slowly building richness of blueberry and cherry pie flavors rolling across the palate followed by some sweet oak spice and a hint of vanilla. This is supple and yet juicy, round and lacking a bit of focus in the mouth. There’s a lot of blueberry fruit on the backend and tart blackberries cover the long finish with hints of bitter chocolate, tobacco and a hint of caraway. It’s an ambitious wine but one that comes off as lacking some focus. 90pts
Sweet tobacco, toasted spice, iris and maybe a hint of cumin even lays on the nose  over a bed of soil tinged wild cherry and candied black cherry fruit. Wide open on the palate, this is soft and bright with acid more than tannin supporting the fruit on the palate. Showing good depth with late arriving tannins adding some firmness on the backend, there’s a nice subtle complexity to this with dried herb and nutty tones leading to a clean, mineral and cherry pit finish that shows a spicy side to the tannins. Well behaved and easy to like this is a crowd pleaser that is not dumbed to down to its lowest common denominator. 90pts
Aromas of hot iron, hints of mint, sage, and toast spice greet the nose along with spicy black fruit. Rich and supple in the mouth, this show good depth to the rather precise black currant and black berry fruit laced with a hint of minerality and some subtle but decisive herbal accents. The oak is well judged, adding some tannin on the moderately long finish and subtle pencil; shaving and wood spice tones to the mid-palate. This is classic California Cabernet, not tremendous but a bit fleshy, fruity, long enough and showing good persistence to the fruit. Considering the label it makes for an attractive gift. 90pts
Pretty oaky on the nose with lots of baking spice, vanilla and charred wood character along with a little leafy black currant and some sugar covered blackberry basenotes. This is wide open in the mouth, a bit fruit forward but well structured for current drinking and filled with somewhat dense blackberry and black cherry fruit. The texture is a bit chewy and a little tough and this might be a bit simple but it has an easy to appreciate core of  black cherry fruit with currant framing notes. 89pts
Tight on the nose with gentle suggestions of flowers, sweet mint and subtle toasted oak spice. Smooth, rich and polished in the mouth with a supple, slightly chewy feel to it. The fruit is generous and fills the palate with crushed blackberry and black currant flavors but this comes off as a touch simple with jammy and candied licorice tones on the mid-palate leading to a dusty, moderately long finish. Relatively easy to drink, this seems like it should improve. 89pts
Big aromas of tobacco leaf, cigar box and subtle baking spice greet the nose along with crushed berry fruit and hints of African violet and sour plum. Soft and a touch sweet on entry, this has lovely flavors of herb tinged blackberry fruit but the late arriving acids seem a bit too aggressive, lending freshness but creating a bit of a discordant feeling with the richness and tannic heft of the wine. Chewy, dull and short in the mouth, this is just tough. 88pts

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Top Cabernet $50-$75 Tasted 12/13

Elyse Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Morisoli Vineyard (2007)
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Trione Vineyards Alexander Valley Bordeaux Blend (2008)
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Sullivan Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford Napa Valley (2010)
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Kenwood Cabernet Sauvignon Artist Series (2009)
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T Vine DOC Gold Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (2009)
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Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: bbqwineco
    1099595 12

    I see South Africa in the mix, but no Washington state. Were they not tasted, or just didn't make the cut?

    Jan 16, 2014 at 1:33 PM

  • Snooth User: EMark
    Hand of Snooth
    847804 5,233

    Oh Greg, I can't miss an opportunity to pull your leg. In the article you gave a very nice review for the Kenwood 2009 Artists Series Cab. However, in your list, that wine does not appear. It is replaced by the Kenwood 2009 Vintage Red, which, I agree is a pretty good wine and, for less than $10, is an outstanding wine, but, maybe, does not belong on a list of $50-$75 Cabernet Sauvignons. ;-)

    Jan 16, 2014 at 6:12 PM

  • Snooth User: Richard Foxall
    Hand of Snooth
    262583 2,857

    Emark, that's what happens when people drink on the job!

    Jan 16, 2014 at 7:14 PM

  • Snooth User: ChefJune
    359212 33

    Interesting you didn't mention any of my favorites at that price point: Trefethen, Chimney Rock, St. Supery, Silver Oak-Alexander Valley... tho you did not the Terlato Stag's Leap. Terlato owns Chimney Rock.

    Jan 17, 2014 at 1:08 PM

  • Snooth User: Zuiko
    Hand of Snooth
    540750 737

    "...richness, followed by complexity." Well yes but if I want those things in a wine, I might be tempted to go with a 2009 or 2010 Bordeaux and at a lower price than $50. Or I might go for a top end Zin for less than $50 or an LBV from Portugal. Great Rheingau spatlesen are less than $50, although most are white.

    I agree, the wines in you article are for a limited audience.

    Jan 17, 2014 at 4:57 PM

  • Snooth User: hestamm
    1176940 24

    At this price point, I'm buying decent champagne! Or good bourbon, or Scotch, or Irish.

    Jan 19, 2014 at 11:26 AM

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