Good Cabernets are getting ever more expensive: $100, $200, $300 are the prices coming out of Napa Valley. Deep, rich, and power-packed, Cabernet has plenty of appeal. It’s the ultimate meat wine, the mainstay of auctions, and at pinnacle of red wines that are age worthy.
Why is Cabernet So Expensive?
Location, location, location. In Napa, the high cost of vineyard land results in grapes selling for $10,000 a ton and up, 10 times more than, say, Grenache. Add in the cost of aging in new French oak barrels, which sets winemakers back $800 to $1,000 per. Cabernets from Napa Valley have cache and prestige. To understand more about what makes Napa Valley a unique wine growing area, visit our blog on Understanding Napa Valley Cabernet.
Think you can only find rich full-bodied Cabernet in Napa? Think again. Alexander Valley is known for their richly flavored Cabernets. The vineyards in Alexander Valley are planted from the valley floor to the benchlands up to mountain vineyards with southwest facing slopes sitting on the Mayacamas mountain range. Ultra-premium quality Cabernet Sauvignon grapes thrive in the benchlands, rolling hillsides and mountain ridges due to the valley’s inland locale and its diverse array of soils rich in calcium, gravel, sand and clay typically above 400 feet in elevation. The dramatic west facing hillsides on the Mayacama Mountain range possess an exquisite profile of soil that drains extremely well and shares a favorable composition that optimizes mature flavors for Cabernet Sauvignon. In these areas, Bordeaux variety grapes achieve a higher quality of tannin and intense blackberry fruit.
Finding The Hidden Gems
As the ‘treasure hunters’ of the wine world, we taste a spectrum of wines weekly to find the best wines for you. Being located in the heart of wine country provides us unique access to artisan wine labels, small, family-owned producers and under the radar gems. So, look no further, here are our picks for value, yet really delicious Cabernets under $50.
WSI94 A deep ruby red, this seductive Cab shows classic Cabernet Sauvignon aromas of spice and sage followed by a mix of blueberries and blackberries with fresh raspberry notes. The 2016 BonAnno Cabernet Sauvignon fruit was sourced from several prime valley floor vineyards from within the St. Helena, Rutherford and Oak Knoll districts.
The 2016 Fisticuffs is a classic Napa Valley Cabernet with a touch of Merlot, Petite Sirah and Petite Verdot. Aromas of rose petal, spice, and dark chocolate complement a mouth coating palate of vine ripened blackberry, black cherry and baked raspberry. The tannins are firm yet subtle and expansive.
WSI93+ Always our best deal on Cabernet year after year. Fresh nose of toasty oak, vanilla, blackberry, Bing cherry and touches of chocolate. The palate is full bodied with jammy fruit entry of ripe cherry, blackberry and hints of oak spice. Can be enjoyed on its own, but has enough structure and concentration to go with grilled meats.
The 2018 Band of Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon is a lush, approachable and pleasurable wine. What a spectacular vintage. Weather was consistent throughout the growing season and the resulting wines are complex and powerful.
JS93 Aromas and flavors of dried flowers with currants, blackberries and violets. It’s full-bodied with soft, refined tannins and a savory finish. Pretty length, too.
WSI93+ Deep ruby in color this wine is juicy and structures. Blueberry, black cherry and wild blackberry predominate, framed by notes of sweet licorice, violets, sage and bay leaf. The tannins are broad and savory while adding length and drive to the wine.
WA92 The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon is blended of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Petit Verdot, 4% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 2% Malbec. Deep purple-black colored, it delivers great intensity of crushed blackberries, warm plums and black currant cordial scents with wafts of underbrush, cinnamon toast and charcoal.
Displays the plushness of fruit and tannin that comes from the sandy alluvial soils at our St Helena vineyard. The wine pops out of the glass with dried cherry, plum, cigar box and ground coffee aromas. The palate is rich with concentrated pomegranate, French plum, mocha, fresh herbs and spice that holds through the round mid-palate.