Value Cabernet Sauvignon

Can a $10 Cabernet make the cut?

2011 Cono Sur Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva Especial Valle del Maipo Chile 14% $10

Sweet black and blue fruits wrapped i sweet toasty oak spice notes greet the nose. The oak is a touch aggressive on the nose and air brings out a smoky, charry edge. Rich and dense in the mouth this offers up edgy blueberry and blackcurrant flavors layered over cedary oak and dried herb tones. the acidity is well integrated and the tannins a bit dry and splintery at this stage, and wood driven. There’s a lot of oak on this on the backend and the moderately long black berry tinged finish. This is powerful and rich and unabashedly oaky. Don’t wait too long to drink this, the oak will outlive the fruit. 86pts

2011 Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon Robertson, South Africa 14.5% $10

A bit muted on the nose with subtle but attractive aromas of black fruits, violets, woodsmoke, and a hint of mint and rosemary. Big, round and polished in the mouth, this delivers ripe yet fresh black currant and plum fruit gentle framed with clean, fresh oak. The balance is attractive for a wine of this size, smooth yet firm enough though allowing the fruit to retain attractive transparency. This is a bit simple but it’s also a bit subtle at the same time with a hint of peppery spice emerging on the backend along with some floral character that both add a little detail to the moderately long if slightly hot finish. I could this getting a little better with 6 months to a year in the bottle. 86pts

2012 Indaba Mosaic Western Cape South Africa 14% $10

76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 4% Malbec, 1% Petit Verdot

Blue fruits and spicy herbs greet the nose along with a little green anise seed and some sweet gum notes. Fairly fruity in the mouth with enough acidity to give this a touch of an edgy feel, there are no obvious tannins allowing the slightly inky, blue fruits to open nicely on the palate. This is broad with lovely slightly candied blackberry fruits emerging on the midpalate along with slightly dusty tannins and a violet note. Turning a bit tart and everso slightly astringent on the backend, there’s a nice blend of rusticity and complexity here, that really holds one’s interest and the finish is both fairly long and reveals attractive complexity to the fruit here. This is succulent and fresh, if just a bit hot on the finish. 86pts

2011 Root:1 Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua Valley, Chile 13.5% $10

Oak and earth frame attractive black currant and weedy Cabernet aromas on the nose with lovely tar, grilled beef, and roasted chili nuance. Plump and smooth, showing real polish in the mouth with supple tannins and integrated acids  supporting broad black cherry and black currant fruit. the wine shows more complexity on the nose and lacks a little energy in the mouth, but is still very attractive with rich fruit and a supple texture people will love. The finish is short if clean with nice black fruit. 85pts

2011 Red Knot by Shingleback Cabernet Sauvignon McLaren Vale Australia 14% $11

A bit meaty on the nose, though rather fresh and bright with black fruit, soil, cracked pepper and grilled meaty aromas. Smooth and larger scaled in the mouth, the flavors here are simple but attractive combination of black currant and wood spice with a hint of leather and earth joining in. This is moderately rich but at the same time it offers well balanced acid and tannins, lending this an attractive freshness in the mouth, and through modest, tart red fruited and gently oaked finish. A bit matte in the mouth but a pleasant surprise as well. 85pts

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Top Value Cabernet tasted 10/13

Waterbrook Cabernet Sauvignon (2011)
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Di Majo Norante Cabernet Sauvignon Terre Degli Osci IGT (2011)
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Tortoise Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Cherokee Lane (2010)
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Santa Julia Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza (2012)
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Trinity Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon (2011)
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Cono Sur Reserva Especial Gewürztraminer (2011)
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Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon (2011)
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Mentioned in this article


  • These days wines are made in India too.How do you rate it?

    Oct 29, 2013 at 11:07 AM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 202,123

    I have not had any Indian wine recently, in fact I can only recall a single example tried several years ago. The wines are not widely distributed here in the states but I do look forward to trying some when they are.

    Oct 29, 2013 at 11:15 AM

  • Snooth User: 1206gene
    1298826 47

    It has been my observation that, typically, if you tend to enjoy Cabernets, you'll need to spend upwards of $20 per bottle to get something that has enough of the usual Cabernet qualities to satisfy, and that the $8 or $10 bottle simply has few or none of these qualities.
    But recently I have been buying at Costco a Cab that sells for $11.69 there and several bucks more at a supermarket or wine shop. For under $20/bottle, this definitely has enough Cabernet character to satisfy most folks. It's made by Columbia Crest, which is a basic supermarket label, but this Cab and its mate, a Merlot, are under the H3 ( Horse Heaven Hills ) label and are definitely a huge cut above their supermarket brand brethren.

    Oct 29, 2013 at 3:40 PM

  • Snooth User: EMark
    Hand of Snooth
    847804 5,457

    Very timely for me. I've been asked to participate in a event where one of the wines I'm to bring is a Cabernet Sauvignon that costs less than $10. I also second Gene's endorsement of the Columbia Crest H3 bottlings--outstanding value.

    Oct 29, 2013 at 5:39 PM

  • Snooth User: Richard Foxall
    Hand of Snooth
    262583 2,874

    Wow, talk about value cabernet! Even I hesitate to look at the cabs in this price range, and I like to think I can sniff out a bargain wine with the best of them! No reason that one couldn't find some good cab at these prices, since it can yield pretty highly compared to Pinot and some others without too much loss of quality and grows about anywhere, but it wants some oak and some time, so it doesn't always get the treatment it deserves. Emark, I did one of those $10 cab things once, but that was probably close to a dozen years ago. ( I have some $75 Altus Cab from the crash that cost $10 where I got it, but that's not the objective.) Ditto on Columbia Crest--quality volume wine you can find anywhere.

    Oct 29, 2013 at 5:58 PM

  • Snooth User: lfc reds
    823019 66

    2011 Montes Cabernet Sauvignon Classic Series, $8 from Costco. Wonder how it compares to others in this price range?

    Oct 29, 2013 at 7:12 PM

  • It's incredibly annoying that there are no 'single page' options on these articles

    Oct 31, 2013 at 9:24 PM

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