Best Cabernet Sauvignon
A relatively new grape varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon was first made in Bordeaux, France in the 1600s, after Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc cross pollinated to make this new type of grape. It quickly gained popularity and, since it's hardy and resistant to diseases, it's often one of the first types of grapes grown in new vineyards.
Cabernet Sauvignon is grown all over the world and it's not hard to find excellent examples of this wine made in North and South America, Australia and New Zealand, as well as in France, Italy, and Spain. Since it's often used as a blending grape, however, some of these regions, notably France, don't often make wines primarily out of Cabernet Sauvignon. The 50/50 blends with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, or Syrah are very common.
Structurally, Cabernet Sauvignon is well-known for its intense tannins. Cabernet can be cellared for many years, and there are quite a few excellent Cabernets that are over 100 years old, though they come with outrageously high price tags. Young Cabernets are often too tight to drink for at least a few years. If you're hoping to build a wine collection, however, focusing on recent vintages and then storing them on your own will save you a great deal of money.
Best Cabernet Sauvignon Overall:
There's no shortage of excellent Cabernet Sauvignons in the world. This is the second-most popular red wine grape and, thanks to its hardy disposition, will suffer through poor growing years and still come out producing good wines. There are a great deal of excellent Cabernets in the $100 to $200 range, though it's not difficult to find near-perfect wines for $100 or less. In fact the wines on this list are all in the $20 to $100 range, making it easy to find the perfect bottle for your budget. These wines are also big and bold, with enough tannins to last for decades. Since these wines are from recent vintages, we've left notes as to when they will be at their peak. The last thing we looked for when putting together this list were wines that have received high marks in professional tastings, or those that have won medals at recent competitions.
A medium-bodied wine with a spicy flavor and lots of structure, Honig Cabernet Sauvignon '11 is our favorite Cabernet. It's been aged for 18 months in American oak, and has been blended with 5 percent Petit Verdot, giving it extra complexity that helped it land a win at the 2013 San Francisco Chronical Wine Competition. Read Full Review
A giant of a Cab, Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon '10 is an incredible wine that will only get better as it ages over the next 25 to 30 years. This wine has complex aromas of violet and blackberry, and lots of fresh berry on the palate that's perfectly complemented by dark flavors of sage, mocha, and granite. Read Full Review
With a long list of aroma and flavor components, Robert Craig Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain '10 is easily one of the most complex Cabernets out there. You'll smell wildflower, pepper, berry, oak, herb, and spice in this wine, and taste dark berry, black cherry, stone, cedar, caramel, and pepper. Though these flavors and aromas could compete for your attention in a lesser wine, this one is so well-balanced that all these components work in harmony to make this one of our favorite Cabs. Read Full Review
Corliss Estates Cabernet Sauvignon '08 is a top-scoring wine that's expected to evolve beautifully over the next 15 to 20 years. Though it's an '08, this is the current release, having spent a lengthy time aging in oak and then a couple of years in storage at the winery. The flavor is incredibly complex, and the tannin soft enough that this wine is very approachable, even though it's still a decade away from its prime. Read Full Review
A deeply complex wine, Vasse Felix Heytesbury Cabernet Sauvignon '09 is one of our Best Picks when it comes to high-end Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is big and bold, with aromas and flavors of juicy berries, leather and spicy pepper. It's quite tannic, and will definitely benefit from 6 or more years of further cellaring. Read Full Review
Best Cabernet Sauvignon under $20:
Cabernet Sauvignon is a big wine that often comes with a big price tag. Fortunately for wine lovers who don't have a lot of money to spend on a great wine, there are plenty of well-made Cabernets that sell for less than $20. We put together this list of the best Cabernet Sauvignon for under $20 by looking for wines with complex flavor profiles and balanced tannins. Like any good Cabernet, these wines can be aged for a while, but all of these are also either ready to drink now, or in a few years. We also looked for wines that are well-loved by both professional wine critics and everyday wine enthusiasts. These are all delicious wines that show off the big flavors and strong tannins that the Cabernet Sauvignon grape is known for, and any would be excellent paired with a hefty dinner centered around a high-quality cut of meat.
A fruit forward Cabernet with plenty of soft tannins to back up the full-bodied flavor, Aquinas Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon '11 is a great choice and, at under $20 a bottle, it's also a great buy. This wine has notes of dark berry and cherry, as well as notes of dark chocolate and spice that play backup. Read Full Review
With notes of currant, black cherry, licorice, and spice, Tommasi Cabernet Sauvignon Toscana Poggio al Tufo '11 is a Cab that hits all the right notes. It's bold and flavorful, with big tannins that easily support the complex flavors. An Italian wine, this is also the perfect complement to a dinner of spaghetti and meat balls. Read Full Review
Soft, supple, and a little on the sweet side, Lamadrid Cabernet Sauvignon '10 is the ideal Cabernet for anyone who's just getting into the big, bold flavor of this complex wine. It's not overly tannic, instead focusing on the big fruity and earthy flavors that Cab is known for. This wine is ready to drink right away. Read Full Review
Benzinger Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon '09 is one of our absolute favorite wines. It's bold and fruity from start to finish, with a plenty of earthy notes that show up halfway through each sip. The tannins are very present but not at all harsh, giving the wine a dry chalkiness and plenty of structure. Read Full Review
A big giant Cabernet that doesn't need 20 years in the wine cellar, Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon '08 is a great choice when it comes to Cabernets for less than $20. It's got lots of juicy fruit flavors and all the chewy tannins you'd want with them. It'll hold up to another decade in the wine cellar, but it's approachable enough to enjoy now, especially if you decant it first. Read Full Review