California Cabernets to Watch
These names aren’t quite famous, but they’re all producers of stellar Cabernet Sauvignon. Though they aren’t necessarily cheap, these picks offer tremendous value.
2006 Obsidian Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon ($28)
California’s Lake County used to be known for pear orchards; now, it’s gaining recognition for its wine grapes. This fresh, berry-rich Cabernet comes from vineyards in the Red Hills AVA, north of Napa Valley.
2005 Terra Valentine Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon ($38)
Terra Valentine makes wine from two vineyards in the Spring Mountain District. It blends portions of each for its entry-level Cabernet, a red with creamy cherry flavors wrapped up in sleek tannins.
2005 Hestan Vineyards Stephanie Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($50)
Hestan Vineyards owner Stanley Cheng (who created Circulon and Anolon cookware) recently released this new line of wines, named for his daughter. The 2005 Cabernet mingles sweet black fruit with subtle oak nuances.
2004 Kuleto Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($60)
Thanks to a substantial replanting project (along with the talents of winemaker Dave Lattin), restaurateur Pat Kuleto’s Napa Valley estate has lately been producing ever-more-impressive wines. The superb 2004 Estate Cabernet, a red packed with cassis and chocolate flavors, is an example.
2005 Frias Family Vineyard Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon ($65)
Manny Frias has grown grapes in the Spring Mountain District AVA since 1985, but only recently have wine drinkers realized just how good his Cabernets are. Opulent and round, his ’05 is loaded with blackberry fruit and gentle, inviting tannins.
2006 Luna Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($65)
With winemaker Mike Drash on hand, well-known Sangiovese producer Luna has shifted its focus more to Cabernet. The velvety ’05, with its black olive and Asian spice notes, suggests that’s not a bad idea at all.
2004 Macauley Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($72)
Kirk Venge, an up-and-coming Cabernet talent, made this seductive, velvet-textured red from a pair of top-notch vineyards, the Kelham Vineyard in Oakville and the Star Vineyard in Rutherford.
2005 O’Shaughnessy Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon ($75)
O’Shaughnessy farms some of Howell Mountain’s best vineyard land. The site’s quality is ably expressed by winemaker Sean Capiaux in this profound red, a swirl of black coffee, black cherry, pepper and spicy oak.