Great Cabernet grows around the world. Here are 11 spectacular values.
2006 Valentin Bianchi Famiglia Bianchi Cabernet Sauvignon ($19)
This robust red, from an Argentine winery founded in 1928, shows the spicy side of Cabernet Sauvignon, with lots of pepper, toast and licorice notes.
2007 Montes Classic Series Cabernet Sauvignon ($13)
Big and bold, with purple-black fruit that recalls black plums, this simple but appealing Cabernet comes from vineyards in Chile’s Colchagua Valley. An addition of 15 percent Merlot helps soften the firm tannins.
2006 Powers Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($14)
Vibrant berry flavors and a distinctive lavender note define this fleshy Cabernet from Washington state’s large Columbia Valley appellation. A touch of Syrah adds a nice spicy edge, too.
2006 Hess Cabernet Sauvignon Mendocino-Lake-Napa ($15)
Sweet raspberry fruit and hints of chocolate make this juicy blend from three different California counties a lovely, easy-to-drink red. Only one quarter of the oak barrels winemaker Dave Guffy uses are new, which keeps the oak influence here more of a grace note than a power chord.
2005 Wente Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon ($15)
Fruit from Wente’s home vineyards in California’s Livermore Valley produced this easygoing, ruby-hued Cabernet. While not wildly complex, its berry fruit and dash of sweet oak make it a pleasure to drink.
2005 Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($16)
Chateau Ste. Michelle makes a dizzying range of wines from Washington state’s Columbia Valley, and among the best values it produces is this affordable Cabernet. The 2005, a very good year for Washington, is fragrant with ripe red cherry, black plum and wild herb aromas.
2005 Solaire by Robert Mondavi Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon ($17)
This new Cabernet from Mondavi comes from vineyards in California’s Central Coast, rather than the winery’s Napa Valley home, which helps keep its price moderate. The ’05 is plummy and dense; the ’06, also good, is somewhat lighter and a touch spicier.
2006 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($18)
Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet has been one of Australia’s great Cabernet bargains since its first vintage was released in 1954. Today, winemaker Sue Hodder is keeping up that standard, something that’s clear from this focused, mocha-scented bottling.
2006 Angove’s Coonawarra Vineyard Select Cabernet Sauvignon ($19)
Coonawarra is known for its distinctive red soil, ideal for growing Cabernet Sauvignon, which helps give the variety a distinct red-currant spiciness. That character comes through clearly in this bottling from Angove’s, one of Australia’s oldest family-owned wineries.
2005 Katnook Founder’s Block Cabernet Sauvignon ($20)
Wayne Stehbens, the winemaker at Katnook since 1979, oversees a variety of good wines at a wide range of prices. The top of the Katnook line is his muscular Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon, one of Coonawarra’s best reds, but don’t overlook this velvety, spicy bottling; it’s a classic Australian Cabernet at a very fair price.
2005 Castello di Corbara Lago di Corbara Cabernet Sauvignon ($22)
Good, affordable Italian Cabernet is rare, so it’s a nice surprise to happen upon this pretty red, with black cherry fruit and plush tannins. It comes from a vast, almost 3,000-acre estate located in southern Umbria.