Matt Walker

Location: Northridge, CA

I am a Certified Specialist of Wine and uncertified Wine Geek! As a Snoother, I hope to raise awareness for smaller, lesser-known but quality driver producers. Major regions I specialize in include Washington, California, Tuscany, Bordeaux, and the Douro

Wines Less Traveled: Cabernet Sauvignon

The reason behind this list is I tend to see the same wineries on "Top Cab" lists on this website and everywhere else.  Now there's nothing wrong per se with Mondavi, Caymus, Silver Oak etc but to me they don't represent good value anymore and there are plenty of great top teir cabs out there that offer both high quality and high value.  This is a short but ever growing list of great wines that in a just world would be world famous but alas are not.  I am not limiting the list to any one region (as it grows it may need to be broken up) but it will focus more on "New World" examples.

Rank Wine Rating Price
1 Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain District (2007)
Comments: As always Togni has made a wine for the ages, that is to say a wine that will have serious aging potential however this vintage is significantly more accessible (with significant decanting time) than many of his previous offerings. As per usual we encounter massive tannins but very well integrated. Briary, cassis, huckleberry, and blackberry with clove, and charcoal notes. This is the only Napa Cab I would bet on to age beautifully for three decades.
Previously available for $129.99
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2 Stevens Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley Xy Reserve (2008)
Comments: If you're a Napa Cab lover and want to venture into Washington this is the bridge wine you've been looking for. Had the '08 followed by the '08 Chappellet Pritchard Hill and Stevens kept up nicely (at less than half the price I remind you). This is a big, lush, and rich wine. Big blackberry and toasty vanilla notes which lead into asian spices and a touch of smoke. Solid, my only critique is it lacks the deep structure to age as well as some of his Washington brethren but if you want a bottle to open tonight for dinner...
Previously available for $44.99
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3 Moone-Tsai Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (2008)
Comments: It seems almost everything Philippe Melka touches turns to gold and Moone Tsai is no exception. The cab has his wonderfully well balanced touch. Fruit, tannin, acid, wood, all joining harmoniously. This cab isn't for those who are searching for those super-viscous, mega Napa cabs with 15+% alcohol. This cab is medium to full bodied and quite reserved but with many layers to discover. I'm going to be keeping my eye on this up and comer!
Previously available for $86.79
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4 World's End "Good Times Bad Times" Cabernet Sauvignon To Kalon Vineyard Oakville Napa Valley (2008)
Comments: Wait, I know what you're thinking but it's true. A Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard Cab for $100! Yes friends no more paying $300 for Paul Hobbs! World's End delivers on that great Oakville intensity but balances it with judicious but restrained oak with nice acidity to balance this heavy hitter. Black and blue fruits with nuances of spice, smoke, and earth. Big yet balanced, what more could you ask for. I plan to drink this come 12/21/12, even if the world doesn't end.
Previously available for $99.99
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5 Bevan Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Mae's Cuvee Showket Vineyards (2007)
Comments: Look out Opus One because there's a new kid in town that's coming out strong! It's hard for me to express how fundamentally great this wine was. From its rich layers of flavor to its balance of tannin, acid, oak, fruit, and body to a nose that was practically trying to escape the glass. The Oakville intensity shows through very well. The nose is jam packed with briar fruits like boysenberries, currents, and blackberries plus cedar, spicebox, and vanilla. Palate is weighty yet not overbearing with the aforementioned flavors plus cigar box, leather, and minerals. This is a wine that really makes you stop what you're doing and say "Wow!"
Previously available for $149.99
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6 Blue Hall Vineyard "Camiana" Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon (2007)
Comments: You really just can't beat Howell Mountain for concentration and structure. Camiana comes from the tiny 3 acre Blue Hall Vineyard and is a wonderful hidden gem. This has a surprising amount of red fruits (Black cherry and creme de framboise) on the nose with touches of cedar. The palate gives way to darker black fruits, more cedarwood, spices, and charred marshmallow. Tight at first but opened up beautifully. The substantial tannins are well balanced with just the right amount of acidity.
Previously available for $59.99
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7 Avenel Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville (2005)
Comments: A highly structured and rich wine. Big aromas of blackberries and black cherries as well as toasty oak. The considerable but ripe tannins support a base of black fruits with chocolate playing the all important supporting character role. A wonderful value from Marco Digiulio
Previously available for $29.99
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8 Cobblestone Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (2004)
Comments: Wow, this is a massive wine! And yet it did not feel overbearing. Big aromas of toasty oak, blackberries, and currants. After giving it time to open up in the glass, you're greeted with a rich dark fruit medley of crushed black cherries and currants. Tannins are definitely there but very ripe and soft. Long finish. Went great with a rib-eye au poivre
Previously available for $49.99
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9 Cult Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley By Salvestrin
Comments: This cab should be on everybody's best value under $30 list. It's Nonvintage which is interested and on the plus side, you can keep getting a consistently good wine year after year (at least theoretically) This has all the classic signs of a great Napa cab (at about half the price). Rich black fruit, vanilla, oak, full body and ripe tannins.
Previously available for $19.99
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10 Maipe Cab Reserve (2009)
Comments: Argentina delivers once again on value. A nice rich, well structured Cab. Cassis, coffee, vanilla, and spice dominate. The oak is significant and comes close to dominating the other flavors. It could use a touch more acidity for my taste but all in all is still a great wine (especially for $15 bucks!)
Previously available for $12.99
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11 Calcareous Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles Twisted Sisters (2009)
Comments: Ladies and Gentlemen meet an inexpensive, Paso Robles cab that has both (that's right both) that lushious fruit and great body you love AND structure and acidity to add depth and liveliness. This is achieved by combining mostly Paso fruit with a good helping of York Mountain fruit. And what a combo it makes. Black cherry and currants as well as vanilla and bittersweet chocolate. This wine would be welcome on anyone's top value list.
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