Cabernet Sauvignon Challenge Results
The Cab results are in! At the bottom of this post, you’ll find the final rankings and basic tasting notes on each bottle.
Given the ridiculous prices that California Cabernet Sauvignon can fetch (think $12,000 bottles of Screaming Eagle), I was a little skeptical of finding nice bottles in the $10 range. I was worried that any bottle containing even acceptable Cabernet fruit would just automatically get jacked up in price because it’s “Cabernet Sauvignon”.
I’m happy to report that I was wrong and there are definitely some delicious bottles to be had at this price! The J Lohr and McManis stick out as clear winners and both worthy of a place in our regular wine rotation.
The J Lohr was dramatically better than the average wines in this price range. Dark fruits mix with warm vanilla creme to create a very inviting nose. On the palate, it’s rich, full bodied, and smooth with a medium to long finish. This bottle delivers significantly more structure and complexity than you can usually find under $20.
The McManis provides more blackberry and subtle campfire aromas with flavors to match. It is smooth and well balanced, with a pleasant silky mouthfeel. A longer than average finish makes this a nice evening sipper. And with a price $2 under the J. Lohr, it’s a real value too!
The majority of the bottles we sampled this month came from California. And, although California wines took the top two spots, they also took the bottom several spots. There’s some great California value cab and some garbage California cab, so choose wisely. Those bottom wines tend to lack nose and flavor while being overly acidic with gritty tannins. Nothing was undrinkable, but they definitely weren’t worth the money.
On the other hand, both of the Washington cabs we tasted received very good ratings. I’d be interested to try several more Washington cabs and see if maybe they’re just a safer bet, in general, for good quality at this price point.
Individual Wine Reviews
J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon – 2014
California, Paso Robles
McManis Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon – 2015
Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon – 2014
Washington State, Columbia Valley, Horse Heaven Hills
14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon – 2015
Washington State, Columbia Valley
Francis Coppola Black Label Claret – 2014
Bogle Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon – 2015
Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon – 2015
Red Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon – 2015
Guenoc Victorian Claret Cabernet Sauvignon – 2014
California, North Coast
Concannon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – 2014
California, Paso Robles
Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon – 2015