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We Asked 19 Sommeliers: What Cabernet Sauvignon Offers the Best Bang for Your Buck? (2023)

Cabernet Sauvignon persists as a beloved grape capable of creating wines of elegance, structure, and depth. While Cabernet can be enjoyed alone, it shines when paired with heartier fare and rich dishes. And with cooler weather around the corner, it’s the ideal time to indulge in such seasonal delights. Unfortunately, some of the bold, aged Cabernets that perfectly complement holiday favorites like grand roasts and decadent steaks often end up being some of the priciest wines on menus.

To help us stock up and save up, we asked sommeliers from around the country for the best-value Cabernet Sauvignon. For many, this meant a wine reminiscent of the iconic, time-honored Napa Valley Cabs without the intimidating price tag, while others turned to Cabernets with minimal oak from younger-generation winemakers forging a new “classic” style.

In addition to specific bottles, many of the experts highlighted countries and regions that should be on every Cab drinker’s radar, from South Africa and Moldova, to Mexico and the Walla Walla Valley in Washington State. Keep reading for the Cabernets that will satisfy your palate while also being kind to your wallet.

The Cabs That Offer the Best Bang for Your Buck, According to Somms:

Martha Stoumen Another Shore Cabernet Sauvignon/Valdiguié blend
Domaine du Temps Sans Ordonnance, Languedoc, France
2019 Golan Heights Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon, Galilee, Israel
Son of a Son Cab, Paso Robles, Calif.
Cultivar North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon
2020 Cole Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon
2019 Stark-Condé Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch, South Africa
2021 Les Lunes Sonoma Cabernet
Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla, Wash.
Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Australia
2021 Gail Doris Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley
Haras de Pirque Hussonet Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, Chile
Peñalolén Cabernet Sauvignon from Domus Aurea, Maipo Valley, Chile
Broc Cellars Le Clairet The Perfect Red, Green Valley, Calif.
Aslina Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Amavi Cellars, Walla Walla, Wash.
Sarget de Gruaud Larose, Saint-Julien, Bordeaux
Glenelly Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa
2019 Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon
Moldovan Cabs
Bodegas de Santo Tomás Cabernet Sauvignon, Baja California, Mexico
Fitapreta A Touriga Vai Nua

“At Fausto, we love anything that comes from Martha Stoumen’s deft hands. Her conscientious sourcing of grapes and immensely thoughtful winemaking ensure that what’s in the glass is always elegant and joyful. Her Cabernet Sauvignon and Valdiguié blend, Another Shore, shows the new generation’s take on classic California wine. If this is the future of California winemaking, we have a lot to look forward to.” —Liz Rogero, general manager and sommelier, Fausto, Brooklyn, N.Y.

“This is an easy one! Domaine du Temps Sans Ordonnance, from the Languedoc region of France, is beautifully balanced with fruit and tannins. Highly drinkable and hovers only around $20 retail.” —Diana Lee, sommelier, Intercrew, Los Angeles

“Out of Galilee in Israel is Golan Heights Yarden Cabernet 2019, which we list for $140 — a great value compared to better-known Napa Cabernets to which I would compare it. With each new vintage, the new oak integrated into this wine gives it more of a California feel at a fraction of the price. With the first sip you are greeted with baking spices, but after the initial layer of oak, there is a rush of lush red cherries that progresses into darker fruits. The partial limestone soils impart a little more acidity into the grapes, resulting in a very approachable, balanced wine. It has become our best-selling wine in the Ocean Room.” —Bret Reynolds, sommelier, The Ocean Room, Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Kiawah Island, S.C.

“I really love the Son of a Son Cab, which rings in retail around $17. Currant, cherry, and smoky plum. Made in Paso Robles, so in line with our shift towards a Californian list. Medium body, not much oak!” —Leena Culhane, co-owner and wine director, Crudo e Nudo and Isla, Los Angeles

“I would say the Cultivar North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon is a really good value for California. It offers some nice mocha, tobacco, and spicy notes with cherry and blackberry, hitting all the points you want from a California Cab at a reasonable price.” —Billy Van Dolsen, owner and beverage director, Sereneco, Brooklyn, N.Y.

“2020 Cole Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendocino, Calif. Historic Cole Ranch, which was planted [with] Cabernet, Merlot, and Riesling in the early ‘70s, was bought a few years ago by Mike and Jill Lucia. The vineyard, which sits between inner Mendocino and Anderson Valley, is dry farmed and organic. Mike, who was born and raised close by, is one of the most talented and thoughtful winemakers I have met in the past decade- plus. This bottling is so balanced with low alcohol, little oak influence, and tons of depth. The fruit comes across as just ripe wild blackberry with all sorts of herbaceous and tea aromatics. The label artwork, done by Los Angeles artist Robbie Simon, is very unique and stunning.” —Ryan Bailey, partner and wine director, Kato, Los Angeles

“2019 Stark-Condé Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch, South Africa. Often overlooked in the world of fine wine, South Africa is producing some of the best value wine of substance in the world. For around $20, you get an elegant and textured Old World-style Cabernet with enough fruit to keep the California crowd happy. All- organic estate fruit and aging in 30 percent new French oak has me guessing how they can keep the price point so low. It’s a favorite of mine for blind tastings where it always performs well and is often mistaken for a Left Bank Bordeaux.” —Jon Cross, general manager and sommelier, Loreto, Los Angeles

“That’s easy! It’s Les Lunes Sonoma Cabernet 2021, on the list at Gasolina for $54. This Cabernet is a blend of four vineyards: Stone Barn and Locke near the city of Sonoma, Marcheschi in the Alexander Valley, and Pyaleh in Carneros. The result is a very dry, medium-bodied Cabernet that’s sturdy and reliable, and about as ripe as the Cabernets made here in the 1970s were. It shows classic flavors of cherry and cassis, perhaps more red cherry than you might find in Napa, and lots of herbs and firm tannins. Just what you want to pair with a big meal on a cool evening. If your meal is lamb, you’re really in luck.” —Scott Baker, general manager and sommelier, Xuntos, Santa Monica, Calif.

“It’s becoming difficult to find quality Napa Cabernet that is still offered at an affordable price point, which is why I look north to Washington State for fantastic value Cabernet Sauvignon. The Walla Walla Valley AVA, in particular, is home to some exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon at a very affordable price point and an exceptional quality-to-price ratio. Walla Walla Valley has a massive diurnal shift during the growing season, which manages to balance the naturally high alcohol with some much needed acidity. There is also a diverse collection of soil and subsoil types since this AVA is part of the backwash of the ancient glacial Missoula floods. I find the complexity, length of finish, and ageability of Walla Walla AVA Cabernet to be just as good as top examples from Napa, but at a much friendlier price point ($60 to $180, as compared to $200 to $500). One of my favorite Cabernet Sauvignons from Walla Walla is from Doubleback, and blind, I would put their bottlings up against top-tier bottlings from Napa.” —Francis Kulaga, beverage director, Anomaly SF, San Francisco

“For those wine drinkers who enjoy a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon but are willing to look outside of the U.S., I would recommend Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon from Margaret River, Australia. Retailing for around $45 a bottle, this wine always over-delivers for this price range. Plus the winemaker, Virginia Wilcox, is a total hoot.” —Kristen Goceljak, wine director, Crown Shy, Saga, Overstory, New York City

“Gail Doris Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley 2021. As a former somm-turned-winemaker, Dan O’Brien’s Doris line of wines offer a softness and a subtlety that is not commonly found in the Sonoma Valley but still maintains classic Cabernet notes of blackberries, graphite, lavender, and pepper. Doris, named after Dan’s great-aunt, is meant to be a table wine and that’s definitely the best way to enjoy it: with plenty of food and company, and preferably with multiple bottles.” —Ruth Frey, wine director, Dalida, San Francisco

“I recently discovered Haras de Pirque ‘Hussonet’ Cabernet Sauvignon, which is recognized for delivering excellent value for its quality. The winery is in Maipo Valley, Chile, where Cabernet Sauvignon grapes thrive, producing wines with rich flavors and balanced structure. For consumers looking for a Cabernet Sauvignon that provides a great balance between quality and affordability, Hussonet is a compelling choice. Its price point makes it accessible without compromising on the character found in higher-priced Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon wines.” —Eden Tesfamariam, co-partner, Stella Hospitality Group, New York and Los Angeles

“Peñalolén Cabernet Sauvignon from Domus Aurea: Not for the faint of heart, this deep, intense Cab offers a myriad of concentrated red and black fruit flavors, and savory wood tones with impressive weight and balancing acid. The finish shows intriguing complexity with smoked bacon, leather, and dry spices. Nothing better with a hefty char-grilled steak.” —Max Hill, manager, The Lark, Santa Barbara, Calif.

“For consumers who like Cabernet Sauvignon for its aromatics and natural structure, Broc Cellars Le Clairet ‘The Perfect Red’ from Green Valley, Solano County, California offers purity of fruit sans oak influence. It’s an organic California Cabernet with every marker of California sunshine, without the full body or price tag that often comes with barrel-aged wines. For those who love a heftier Cabernet Sauvignon, Ntsiki Biyela’s dark-fruited Aslina Cabernet Sauvignon from Stellenbosch, South Africa, is as textbook as it is delicious. Plus you’re supporting a Black female winemaker, which is also beautiful.” —Chris Struck, beverage director, ilili NYC, New York City

“Wine professionals are asked wine buying advice all the time, and my best advice is not what to buy, but where to buy. Make a stop at your local independently owned wine shop and there will be someone there to give good guidance. There’s so much wine in the world that I could name different selections to this question dozens of times over, and I would, because I encourage everyone to drink something new every time you open a bottle. Recommendations on particular producers are much more useful from someone who is there with you when you’re making the purchase. All that being said, for Cabernet you could seek out good choices from Walla Walla like Amavi, second-label wines from Bordeaux like Sarget de Gruaud Larose, and Glenelly from South Africa, for good values.” —Troy Revell, wine director, Fearrington House & Village, Pittsboro, N.C.

“I really like the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon from Josh Cellars. You can find a bottle for as low as $13 in selected liquor stores or for about $60 to $80 at a restaurant. Definitely a good quality for the price.” —Luca Lanzilotti, beverage director, Fouquet’s New York, New York City

“Best Cab for the cash? Hands down, Moldovan. Moldova does Bordeaux varietals really well. The Cabs there are rich and full of tannin with great structure. The climate is great and the soil is primed. In 2013, Russia banned Moldovan wine for the second time in 10 years. Since then, the country has pushed to export to different markets. Losing 30 percent of their export business left them in a deficit. They have dropped prices and tried to introduce the rest of the wine world to their amazing offerings. I’m all about it.” —Cyle Walker, sommelier and beverage manager, Spain Wine Bar, Ocean City, Md.

“Cabernet Sauvignon that is coming out of the valleys surrounding Ensenada in Baja California, Mexico, offer an incredible value for the quality of the wines that they produce while also creating an expression of Cabernet that is entirely unique to the landscape where it is grown. Many of the Cabernet vines in the region are upwards of 50 years old and benefit from the strong cooling influence of the nearby Pacific Ocean, giving them a persistent and bright level of acidity while at the same having a concentration of flavor that only old vines can give. Unlike other Cabs, however, the wines from these vines showcase intense characteristics of dried strawberry, dusty red flowers, and stoney minerality while at the same time remaining lighter and fresher on the palate than some more heavily extracted Cabs from warm-growing regions. An example is the Cabernet Sauvignon from Bodegas de Santo Tomás, which is made from vines that were planted in the 1970s by Dimitri Tchelicheff during his tenure as the winemaker at this centuries-old Baja winery. The wine offers an incredible level of nuance and balance that speaks to the generations of history behind Baja’s oldest winery but at a fraction of the price of what one would pay for an equivalently profound expression of Cabernet from other places. This is one of the reasons that Santo Tomás’ Cabernet Sauvignon was the first Mexican wine to earn a gold medal at this year’s Sommeliers Choice Awards.” —Stephen Ott, certified sommelier and co-founder, Nossa Imports, Tucson, Ariz.

“In an effort to maximize value, I would suggest the Fitapreta A Touriga Vai Nua, made by António Maçanita in Alentejo, Portugal. Although not a Cabernet Sauvignon, A Touriga Vai Nua is a superb example of the ‘king of Portugal,’ Touriga Nacional, and often similar in character. With concentrated, juicy red and black fruit, complex herbal notes, and a long, dry finish, I would put this wine up against any Cabernet Sauvignon at the $40-and-under price point. And an overall pro tip: If you want a robust, juicy red wine at a great price, look to Portugal.” —Kevin Denson, manager, Fork, Philadelphia

The article We Asked 19 Sommeliers: What Cabernet Sauvignon Offers the Best Bang for Your Buck? (2023) appeared first on VinePair.

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