Top 15 Cabernet Sauvignon’s of 2015

In California, Cab is King. It also turns out that Cab was King in 2015 for Wine Spectrum (45 of our top 100 spots were Cabernet).

Here is the list of our Top 15 favorite Cabernets from 2015. All the wines on this list come from Domestic producers (Look for Bordeaux 1/18 on our International wines list.).

Unlike our Top 100 which was based upon our staff’s ratings during tastings, as well as popularity with our clients, our top varietal countdowns are based purely upon score (In the event of ties, we award the higher ranking to the more popular wine with our clients). We took the thousands of wines that we tasted and narrowed it down to the best of the best.

It’s not just Pinot Noir we are counting down, take a look at the bottom of this post for full countdown schedule.

*If you are curious on how we tabulate our scores, please see the bottom of this post.

1 – 2012 Morlet Family ‘Coeur de Vallee’, Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Oakville  |  Inquire Here

morlet-family-vineyardsWine Spectrum Rated 97+:  Deep purple. Intense and complex bouquet of red, black and blue berries intermixed with notes of cassis, Quesch plum, blond tobacco and a hint of black pepper. Full bodied, the palate is reminiscent of the nose, with a creamy texture and beautiful depth. The silky tannins and complex aromas create a harmonious ensemble, leading to a very long and smooth finish. This early charming, generous and collectible wine is particularly representative of this unique vineyard site. Coeur de Vallee features the interaction of the clayish yet well-drained gravelly volcanic soil, the site’s micro-climate and the low-interventionistic Morlet winemaking approach.

Robert Parker Rated 97: Luc Morlet’s 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Coeur de Vallée is a 300-case blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Cabernet Franc from the Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard. A mindblowing effort, it offers up notes of mocha, forest floor, blueberries, blackcurrants, asphalt and licorice. Full-bodied and opulent, this sensational 2012 is one of the vintage’s superstars. It should drink well for 20 years.

2 – 2013 TOR ‘Beckstoffer To Kalon’

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley  |  Inquire Here

T8062Wine Spectrum Rated 97: Where the 2012 To Kalon Cabernet was a mix of red fruit and black fruit, the 2013 is all about the black fruits. Deep black cherry, black raspberry and roasted meats are what you will find when you try the 2013. In this vintage, there are very firm but ripe tannins with fantastic lifting acidity and sweet fruit from the Clone 337 Cabernet playing off the structure and intensity of the palate. This vintage is probably going the be the longest and best lived vintage we have had from To Kalon since 2010 or maybe even 2006. The style of the vintage shows through loud and clear on this wine, with a long graceful life ahead of it. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. 600 cases produced. 

Robert Parker Rated 96: The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To Kalon, or course, comes from that great first-growth vineyard, and what’s not to like, as everyone seems to nail a classic Cabernet from this large holding on the valley floor in Oakville. Deep purple, with notes of creosote, charcoal, blueberry and blackcurrant fruit as well as some licorice and background oak, this wine has great intensity, a magnificent mouthfeel and texture, and a long, long finish. 

3 – 2012 Gandona

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley  |  Available Online

GandonaWine Spectrum Rated 97, Robert Parker Rated 96: Living up to the potential predicted last year, the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is fabulous. One hundred percent Cabernet Sauvignon aged 22 months in 80% new French oak, there are 500 cases of this terrific wine. With its inky purple color, a glorious nose of blackberry and blueberry liqueur, full-bodied mouthfeel, dense, pure notes interwoven with camphor, charcoal embers and spring flowers, this is stunning stuff and a great example of the Estate’s potential. Drink now-2025+.


4 – 2012 Kapcsandy Estate Cuvee ‘State Lane Vineyard’

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley  |  Inquire Here

Kapcsandy Estate Cuvee ‘State Lane Vineyard’Wine Spectrum Rated 97, Antonio Galloni 95: The 2012 Estate Cuvée is fabulous. Graphite, smoke, cedar, tobacco and licorice blossom in a voluptuous wine endowed with superb depth and pure vintage 2012 radiance. Dark spices, rose petal and mint are some of the many notes that are laced into the super-expressive, resonant finish. This is a fabulous example of the year. 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot. 



5 – 2008 Linked Vineyards

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Knights Valley  |  Inquire Here

Linked VineyardsWine Spectrum Rated 97: The 2008 Linked Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon takes the Linked style of powerfully elegant Cabernet to the next level. Made with 100% estate Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine showcases beautifully ripened fruit that came from near perfect growing conditions. The intense ruby color hints at the depth and complexity of this wine: layers of juicy blackberry and black cherry, red currant and raspberry give way to hints of warm spices, dark chocolate and graphite. Floral notes and lovely acidity add to this wine’s multi-dimensional profile. The big round flavors and soft, supple tannins create a wine that makes you eagerly anticipate the next sip as you are savoring the last one. While this wine is rich, ripe and drinkable now, it has the potential to age 15-20 years. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. 122 cases produced. 

6 – 2009 Mithra

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Mount Veeder  |  Inquire Here

Mithra Cabernet 2012Wine Spectrum Rated 97: One hundred percent estate grown fruit on the Mithra vineyard located on Lokoya road within the Mount Veeder AVA. Planted to cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and malbec, the vineyard continues to produce site-specific mountain fruit since Mithra’s inaugural 2006 vintage.

The 2009 vintage is 100% Estate fruit from the Mithra Vineyard on Mount Veeder. Primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2009 vintage has small percentages of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec blended in the varietal composition. The wine is aged in predominantly new French oak. Just 400 cases produced. 

This third vintage of Mithra is an intricately complex Cabernet Sauvignon with intense aromatics. Deep, plush, dark red fruits such as black raspberries, creme de cassis and purple plums expertly integrate with soft, round tannins that coat the palate. Hints of floral notes and spice weave through the mid palate, enhancing an elegant, expressive finish. 

Mithra is made by winemaker Julien Fayard, who previously has worked in both Provence and Bordeaux, where he honed his skills at Chateaux such as Lafite-Rothchild and Smith Haut Lafite. Prior to stepping out on his own, he was the Director of Winemaking for Phillipe Melka at Atelier Melka. Julien is truly one of the rising winemaking stars in the Napa Valley. 

7 – 2012 Araujo Eisele Vineyard

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley  |  Inquire Here

AraujoWine Spectrum Rated 97, Robert Parker Rated 96-98+: The flagship offering, the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Eisele Vineyard is a much longer-term proposition, even for a 2012. It boasts a thick-looking, dense ruby/purple color, sensational extract and richness, abundant notes of blackcurrants, blueberries, blackberries, spring flowers and forest floor, and full body. However, it pulls back before it becomes heavy or overly extracted. The finish lasts 45-50 seconds. This beauty is still in barrel, and will warrant 5-6 years of patience after its release. Like most Cabernet Sauvignons made from the Eisele Vineyard, it should keep for 25-30 years. The only difference I could find between this effort and those made by the Araujo family is that the 2012 possesses slightly more density and structure.

8 – 2010 Saint Helena Winery ‘Grand Reserve’

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley  |  Inquire Here

sh_grandreserve_136x437Wine Spectrum Rated 97: Once in a while, with extraordinary vintages, a special lot of wine is discovered in the cellar. Winemaker Aaron Pott traced one 2010 barrel lot back to the vineyard parcel – not surprisingly, this extra special wine originated on the rocky soils of “Block 1” on the south side of our estate. The See clone bud wood came from Napa Valley’s famed “Backus Vineyard” in Oakville. The soil and clonal selection (and farming practices) yield very small berries with intense flavors and tannins. Aaron carved this small lot wine out of the cellar to create the fist vintage of our “Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.” Of course this sweet spot in the vineyard will be watched closely each vintage for more Grand Reserve opportunities. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Just 100 cases produced. Made by winemaker Aaron Pott.

9 – 2011 Fairchild Estate ‘Sigaro’

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley  |  Inquire Here

Fairchild Cabernet SigaroWine Spectrum Rated 97: Sigaro is a spectacular hillside site from which we carefully coax just over 1.5 tons per acre of intense, lush fruit for Fairchild SIGARO Cabernet Sauvignon. Located on the steep slopes overlooking Lake Hennessey, high above Napa’s Valley floor, the vineyard’s well-draining hillside and southwest-facing aspect offer optimal growing conditions for Cabernet Sauvignon. A full-bodied, masculine and structured wine, Fairchild SIGARO has shown to age beautifully in cellar.

The 2011 Fairchild Sigaro exhibits a beautiful nose of dark fruits with currant, black licorice, cedar, crushed stone and vanilla. The mouthfeel is extremely inviting with great energy. Full, dense, voluptuous. The combination of velvety texture, strong acidity, powerful tannins and complex flavors of asian spices, menthol, underbrush and dark smoky tones create a sense of extreme sophistication. Drink 2016-2035. 200 cases produced. Made by Philippe Melka and farmed by Jim Barbour.

10 – 2012 Ramey ‘Pedregal Vineyard’

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Oakville  |  Inquire Here

Ramey-2010-Pedregal-Cabernet-SauvignonWine Spectrum Rated 97, Robert Parker 97+: As usual, the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Pedregal Vineyard is a great wine (a 650-case blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Petit Verdot). This sexy, full-throttle, opaque purple-colored 2012 boasts fabulous concentration along with copious notes of pen ink, blueberries, blackberries, and hints of graphite and espresso bean. Deep, full-bodied and multidimensional, this sensational Cabernet should drink well for 20-25 years.

“It’s hard to know where to start with this lineup, as David Ramey does so many things so well. The 2012 Chardonnays are beautiful, expressive and ready to go. This year sees the addition of a new Chardonnay, from Woolsey Road, a site farmed by Martinelli that replaces the Hudson in the lineup. Ramey also seems to have gotten the best of the 2012 and 2013 vintages with his Cabernet Sauvignons and Cabernet-based reds. The 2012s will drink well early, yet have the stuffing to age, while the 2013 are prototypical vins de garde, with all of the dark fruit and structure of this great vintage. Both the Chardonnays and Cabernets reflect a very Francophile sensibility. The Syrahs are a bit different, as they are quite explosive and intense, much like the Cabernets. It’s pretty hard to go wrong with anything in this superb range….” ~ Antonio Galloni 

11 – 2012 Perfect Season

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Knights Valley  |  Inquire Here

Perfect Season P2920Wine Spectrum Rated 97: Exquisitely handcrafted by Philippe Melka, the 2012 vintage of Perfect Season is a wine that transports you to a place of quiet thought and reflection. Its intriguing layers reveal themselves slowly and purposefully, and at first, offer aromas of dark sensuous berries, baking spices and the soil from which the wine was born. Alluringly, these expand to include chocolate, fragrant vanilla, and a hint of jalepeno pepper in a long and rewarding finish. Philippe was joined by viticulturist Jim Barbour in capturing the essence of the 2012 growing season in this extraordinary 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wine. 300 cases produced. 

“This estate’s proprietor is Norma Knobel Hunt, the wife of American sports pioneer and founder of the Kansas City Chiefs, the late Lamar Hunt. Philippe Melka is the consulting winemaker and he has done a beautiful job at their estate vineyard, the Bidwell Creek Vineyard.” ~ Robert Parker

12 – 2010 Mascot

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley  |  Available Online

Mascot M5009 labelWine Spectrum Rated 96+: The Mascot began early on as an experiment, after talking the family and winemaking team into sparing a few barrels of wine – produced from our younger vines – to explore a blend of my own. In the first few years, before it had a label or a name, it was just a wine shared with friends and family. It wasn’t until the 2008 vintage, our first official release, that we had enough to share with new friends. This cabernet is a hedonistic blend of power and balance; expressive and approachable early in its life, with potential to evolve well into the future. Ready to drink upon release, it will age for decades given the opportunity.

The 2010 vintage was one of the coolest years in recent memory and one that provided a nurturing backdrop for these young rooted vines to express themselves. The growing season began late, with budbreak occurring in mid to late April. Extra diligence and care were required of the team at every stage during leafing, fruit thinning, and harvest. Nature was benevolent during the long, measured harvest, allowing our team to pick each lot as it ripened. Notes of graphite, cedar, and forest floor are ever-present on the nose. On entry the wine is brought into focus seamlessly through a fine lens of acidity, lending energy and freshness to power and structure. Soft yet supple tannins expand out horizontally on the palate, resolving into an extremely long finish.

“Made from the younger vines of Harlan Estate, BOND, and Promontory, The Mascot shares a unique glimpse into the evolution of our winegrowing estates…Vines that have all the pedigree of the land, and would one day be considered for the ‘grand vins’ of our estates.” ~ Will Harlan

13 – 2013 12C ‘G3’, Beckstoffer Vineyard Georges III

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley  |  Inquire Here

12CWine Spectrum Rated 96+, Robert Parker Rated 98: The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon G3 Reserve has a similar opaque purple color, but floral notes in the aromatics along with blackberry and cassis, with the wood subtly represented. The wine is full-bodied, multi-dimensional and stunningly proportioned and rich. This is a big, impressive, rich Cabernet Sauvignon with wonderfully sweet tannins and a juicy, unctuously textured mid-palate and length. It’s a great example of the winemaking skills of winemaker Mike Smith. Drink now-2040.

In 2012 we acquired another block of Georges III Cabernet Sauvignon called B2A giving us a nice base to create a barrel select reserve wine for 12C. The combination of our original clone 7 block with this clone 4 block created a wine which couples Napa’s charm with the old world’s sternness. Dark ruby to the core, scents of acacia, dark fruits, and cedar flow effortlessly into a wonderland of succulent fruit. A full bodied mid palate preludes a rush of fine grained tannins that lift the overall back bone of the wine into a finish gushing with blue fruits, currants, high toned floral  notes and barrel tannin. A long decant will put this wine into a nice place upon release and it will gain further complexities and depth for several more years. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Less than 100 cases produced. 

This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon was crafted by Mike Smith, who was mentored by the talented Thomas Rivers Brown, and has worked on labels such as Schrader, Maybach and Outpost!

14 – 2012 Revana ‘Terroir Selection’

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley  |  Inquire Here

Revana Terroir Selection CabWine Spectrum Rated 96+: This is the Estate’s first release under winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown, and the inaugural release of the Terroir Selection’ Cabernet. A luscious bouquet of bing cherries, bramble fruit, and cedar with just a hint of cigar box on the nose. Ripe red fruits, cassis, and toasted brioche dance on the palate and are framed by a structure of balanced minerality and supple tannins with a long, lingering finish. 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, and 3% Petit Verdot. 1200 cases produced

15 – 2013 David Arthur ‘Elevation 1147’

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley  |  Available Online

attachmentWine Spectrum Rated 96+: The 2012 Elevation 1147 is a massive wine with a dense, deep ruby color. Aromas of spicy, brambly baked fruits of blackberry and currants that transition to earth driven aromatics of forest soil, cocoa nibs, and spicy tones like wild sage, bergamot and hints of cedar. The palate is rich, broad and fleshy with seductively fine grained tannins and a rigid texture finishing with notes of baked cherries and licorice candy. Best from 2016-2036. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. 677 cases produced.

Robert Parker Rated 95+: Lastly, usually the most famous wine produced at this winery is the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Elevation 1147. Clearly the most backward of the three wines, it possesses more tannin, structure and density. More of a long-term proposition than its two siblings, this wine has a dense purple color, good structure and ripeness, beautiful, flowery crème de cassis and spice. It is intense and full-bodied, but patience will be required. Forget it for the next 4-5 years and drink it over the following 25 or more. 

Q. Why should I pay attention to the Wine Spectrum score?

A. The reason is simple. We taste and score wines with our entire sale’s team – the owner, the wine buyer, the sales manager, and all of our sale’s advisors. It’s not only one person’s opinion and rating of the wine, but a total average of the whole tasting panel. That adds up to  decades of combined tasting experience to ensure that we bring only the BEST wines to our clients. 

It is because of this and many other factors that our clients have come to respect our score and use it to help determine what wines they want to procure for their cellars and display on their tables. At Wine Spectrum you get a much better representation of how people will ENJOY a wine.

2015 wines of the year release schedule


December Schedule

12/10: #10#9, and #8 ranked wines

12/11: #7#6, and #5 ranked wines

12/14: #4 and #3 ranked wines

12/15: #2 ranked wine

12/16: #1 ranked wine

12/18: #11 – #25 ranked wines

12/21: #26 – #50 ranked wines

12/21: 2015 Winemaker of the Year

12/22: #51 – #75 ranked wines

12/23: #76 – #100 ranked wines

January Schedule

1/4: Top Chardonnay’s of the Year

1/7: Top Pinot Noir’s of the Year

1/11: Top Cabernet Sauvignon’s of the Year

1/14: Top Other Domestic Red’s of the Year

1/18: Top International Wines of the Year

1/21: Top Wines of the Year under $60


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *