Cabernet Sauvingnon

Cabernet Sauvignon might be the most prolific, most popular red wine variety in the world. Whether bottled on its own or in a blend, it produces deeply colored, tannic wines that can withstand particularly long aging. It reigns in California, where it's responsible for everything from sun-kissed Napa Valley cult bottlings like the ones recommended here to earth-driven reds from the Santa Cruz Mountains. It's planted north to south in Italy, where it bolsters local varieties and is a crucial component in many of the Super-Tuscans that rose to fame in the '70s and '80s. It's found in Washington, Australia, South America and Spain. But nowhere can Cabernet claim as long a history as in France's Bordeaux region, where early fans include the likes of Napoleon Bonaparte and Thomas Jefferson. To recreate a Jefferson-like trek through Bordeaux wine country, check out Ray Isle's list of châteaus to visit now.

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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