Best American Wines $15 & Under: Cabernet Sauvignon

After tasting more than 300 affordable American wines, Senior Editor Ray Isle reports on his most exciting Cabernet Sauvignon finds.
Additional research by Megan Krigbaum
Cabernet Sauvignon
© Kang Kim

2005 Hahn Estates Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon ($12)

The Hahn family owns more than 1,400 acres of vineyards throughout California’s Monterey County; a portion of that fruit goes into this savory, ripe Cabernet.

2005 Ravenswood Vintner’s Blend California Cabernet Sauvignon ($12)

Although Cabernet can often be formidably tannic, Ravenswood’s most affordable bottling is juicy and round, its sweet, generous black fruit bound together by just the right amount of tannins.

2005 SKN Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($14)

The name may be ridiculous (Screw Kappa Napa), but the wine’s good—a juicy, easy-drinking Cabernet. SKN is one of many brands owned by wine-industry veteran Don Sebastiani.

2005 Hayman & Hill Napa Valley Reserve Selection Cabernet ($15)

Aromatic mint notes and firm black-cherry fruit define this polished Cabernet from a pair of talented entrepreneurial winemakers, David Hayman and Dennis Hill.

2005 Hawk Crest Cabernet Sauvignon ($14)

This second-label Cabernet from Napa Valley icon Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars (whose 1973 Cabernet won the famous 1976 Paris Tasting) shows the winery’s skills with California’s premier red grape.

2005 Beaulieu Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($15)

BV, as it’s known, produces one of Napa’s benchmark Cabernets, the famous Georges de Latour Private Reserve. They also make this affordable, full-bodied, briary counterpart.

2005 Michael Pozzan Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon ($15)

Pozzan, whose grandfather grew Zinfandel grapes near Healdsburg after WWII, buys grapes from Napa and Sonoma growers for appealing wines like this cassis-driven Cabernet.

2003 4 Bears Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($15)

For this new value-oriented brand, former King Estate winemaker Will Bucklin helps fashion approachable wines like this ebullient, ripely fruity Napa Valley Cabernet.

PUBLISHED April 2008