Of all the noble grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon wins the popularity contest. Coming in as the most sought-after red varietal stateside, the grape’s beauty lies in its adaptability.
Cabernet Sauvignon hails from a diverse range of vineyards across the globe, from France and the U.S., to South Africa and Australia. Due to its ability to grow in a wide variety of regions and impressive ageability, Cabernet’s styles and prices can vary greatly.
Looking beyond Bordeaux, VinePair enlisted the expert advice of wine professionals around the U.S. to find out which bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon present the very best value for your money, according to the experts.
“Everybody knows that Cabernet Sauvignon and Napa Valley go hand in hand. However, you’ll be paying quite a bit for that experience. If you’re on a budget, or just looking to expand your horizons, look to Washington State’s Columbia Valley. Its high-quality soils are available to winemakers at less than a third of Napa Valley’s [prices], and that’s a huge benefit to cost-conscious consumers. Just now entering their prime, these desert-climate vineyards produce wine of quality to rival California but at a fraction of the cost. Mainstays such as Chateau Ste. Michelle are easily found and dependable selections, and have offerings from entry-level up to boutique, single-vineyard wines.” — Matthew Emborski, Varia at Hilton Norfolk The Main, Norfolk, Va.
“Clos du Val is the house that, for me, [is] all about consistency — without [the] bells and whistles of marketing and showmanship. It’s all the flavors and intensity you want from Cabernet, and the Napa pedigree people are looking for.” — Jeff Harding, Wine Director, Waverly Inn & Garden, NYC
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“Finding value in Cabernet is always a bit tricky, but I think the Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon always over-delivers.” — Rusty Rastello, Wine Director, SingleThread, Healdsburg, Calif.
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“Aslina, [a] Cabernet Sauvignon out of South Africa, is absolutely delicious. The winemaker Ntsiki Biyela is South Africa’s first Black female winemaker and she has dedicated this wine to her grandmother, Aslina. The grapes are from the Stellenbosch region of South Africa, which has a maritime climate quite similar to Bordeaux.” — Theo Lieberman, Beverage Director, 232 Bleecker, NYC
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“D‘Arenberg is known for Shiraz but also makes some stellar Cabernet Sauvignon. The Originals High Trellis (this was the first d’Arenberg vineyard to be trained above knee-height) is barrel-fermented in small batches, and stays in the same batches for the entire winemaking process up to final blending. There’s also this vibrant acidity that keeps the wine light on its feet while still full of expressive blackberry, cherry, sage, and mint notes.” — Stefanie Schwartz, Sommelier, Portale, NYC
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“Rotation Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon from Lodi, Calif. [A] straightforward Cab Sauv from a further inland area of Northern California, it has the classic vanilla notes from oak aging and silky tannins, but the finish is refreshing with flavors of ripe cherries. Perfect summer Cab.” — Emmanuelle Massicot, Assistant General Manager, Kata Robata, Houston
“Ultraviolet Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, a young project by female winemaker Samantha Sheehan. I worked with her POE Pinot Noir during my retail days, and the wines definitely express her inspiration and admiration for Burgundy. The Ultraviolet is an homage to the California climate she grew up in, and is such a classic California expression: dark ripened fruit, damp forest floor with soft tannins, and acidity give the wine a balance and a freshness altogether. This is a wine that screams for food, especially grilled foods and barbecued meats during this time of year.” — Madeline Maldonado, Beverage Director, da Toscano, NYC
“[F]or the best value Cabernet Sauvignon, I look to the lesser-known regions of Paso Robles (Central California) and Bergerac (just east of Bordeaux). One of my particular favorites recently is from Château Tour des Gendres, an organic winery in Bergerac. Like most Bordeaux, their wines are blends featuring both Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Malbec.” — Marianna Caldwell, Assistant General Manager and Sommelier, Cassia, Santa Monica, Calif.
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“Definitely Excelsior. It’s a phenomenal value-priced wine. The wine is very smooth and well balanced. One of my favorite Cabernet Sauvignons out of South Africa.” — Justin Anthony, Restaurateur/Founder, True Story Brands, Atlanta
“Crossroads, Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville 2017. Crossroads is a new project by Rudd Estate in which they utilize younger vines from their Oakville property to create a wine that is more approachable at an early age. It’s an absolutely delicious Oakville Cabernet that exhibits dark fruit such as blackberry and black cherry, along with violets, red currants, plum, and black licorice.” — Carey Vanderborg, Sommelier, PRESS Restaurant, St. Helena, Calif.
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“I have always done well by ‘Rudy’ — this is the entry-level von Strasser Cab, and it drinks leaner and higher-acid than a lot of examples.” — Zac Adcox, Advanced Sommelier, indo, St. Louis
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“There is a fairly unknown winery project out of Napa called Mapson, and they produce a Left Bank-inspired wine called Left Lane. I love working with tiny producers who have passion projects like Mapson. This wine is an incredible value and far over-delivers on every vintage.” — Marsella Charron, Sommelière, The Harbor House Inn, Elk, Calif.
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“Domaine de l’Ecu is mainly known for its Muscadet in the Loire Valley, but winemaker Fred Niger makes interesting Cabernet Sauvignon, too. ‘Red Noz’ shows a completely different side of Cabernet. It’s leaner, with tart black fruit and peppery flavors. If you are looking for something different, this is worth a try! It retails between $22 [and] $26.” — Etinosa Emokpae, Wine Director, Friday Saturday Sunday, Philadelphia
“The 2019 Prelius Cabernet Sauvignon is [the] perfect red wine for a thoughtful dinner at home, or a treat after a long day. With food or on its own, this balanced and slightly fruity Cabernet is a crowd-pleaser that cannot be beat for $17. Picture drinking this with past Roman emperors in the Tuscan ancient lake Prelius, for which this wine is named.” — Kaitlyn Gibbs, Beverage Director, Louie, St. Louis
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“Hound’s Tree Wines, ‘Estate’ Cabernet Sauvignon North Fork of Long Island 2015 ($25). Local, ambitious, delicious. … The young winemaker Alexander Rosanelli shows a restrained and terroir-driven approach, not as common in the North Fork. The ripeness of the red fruits is nicely balanced by its fresh acidity and firm tannins. Perfect for a summer barbecue!” — Mariarosa Tartaglione, Head Sommelier, Ai Fiori at The Langham, NYC