Napa Value

Affordable Cabernets in the Napa Valley

Vanilla, herbs, raw wood and jujube aromas greet the nose. Subtly complex with a light gaminess to the black fruit on the nose. Smooth and polished with nary an edge to be seen though the flavors here run towards the oakier, savory end of the spectrum with lots of mocha, cocoa, and dried spice flavors framing nice blueberry fruit. Well-balanced and interesting, this lacks some complexity and depth but should make for fine early drinking. The finish is fairly short with some drying wood tannins and toasty spice notes. 87pts    
A touch sweet and toasty on the nose with a nice light licorice top not floating over moderately spicy and slightly leathery black fruit. Balanced and focused on entry with a nice integrated, decidedly medium-bodied mouth feel and layered flavors of toasty oak, leather, licorice, black plum skin, and a touch of green walnut. This turns a touch minty on the back end where the sweetness of wood picks up a bit, leading to a moderately long finish that shows a bit of oaky harshness and more licorice notes. 87pts
A nice minty, herbaceous edge greets the nose, adding freshness here to the slightly oaky and hard dark currant fruit. This smells unforgiving. Tight on entry, there's a good amount of fruit here, but this is not fleshy and plump but rather focused and crisp, medium weight with black cherry and currant fruit topped with a hint of mint and laid over a base of cedary oak. This seems to need some time in the bottle, not soft but neither oppressive for its a slightly fruit-driven classic Napa Valley Cabernet, though perhaps not representative of the typical warmth of Calistoga. The finish shows more of the oak, dry and nutty with lingering vanilla sweetness matched by the compressed cherry fruit and ending with a touch of smoke on the finale. Should benefit from 1-3 years in the cellar. 87pts
Smoky on the nose yet bright with fresh red currant and lightly jammy blackberry fruit, all cupped in a gently sweet vanilla note.  A touch rough around the edges, this shows some noticeable wood tannin in the mouth with good acidity adding some freshness to the dark cherry/blackberry flavors. There's also noticeable oak sweetening the palate and adding vanilla and spice notes that persist on the moderately long finish, which also shows some cherry pit notes and a touch of heat. 87pts

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Napa Value Wines Under $25

Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Courtney Benham (2009)
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Veramonte Primus the Blend (2010)
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Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon (2009)
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Don Sebastiani & Sons B Side Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (2010)
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Martin Ray Courtney Benham Cabernet Sauvignon Mt Veeder (2009)
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Napa Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (2010)
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Summers Cabernet Sauvignon Calistoga Napa Valley (2010)
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Waterstone Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (2009)
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  • Snooth User: Richard Foxall
    Hand of Snooth
    262583 2,842

    Another to consider is St. Supery, which in the past has been available at discount for $24 or occasionally less. Not going to change your life, but a solid performer with a decently restrained style. There's been some variation from year to year, as you would expect with a wine that actually depends on grapes and not just winemaking. I don't buy it much--I'm near to wine country and can find discounts on things that are higher end and hard to find, so Napa Cab under $30 isn't exactly Shangri La--but I never wrinkle my nose when someone brings it to dinner, and it's broadly available.

    Feb 26, 2013 at 3:10 PM

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