Cabernet Sauvignon is the King of Grapes

Here are my favorites

Cabernet Sauvignon is still king in the United States. While the quality of Pinot Noir and Syrah have improved, Cabernet remains the nation’s best selling wine of superior quality (and also most expensive). There are three pairs of components that work to produce the Cabernet experience: cassis and oak, rich fruit and buxom body, and a regal texture from the wine’s tannin and glycerin.   

It’s possible to find and enjoy a full-bodied, complex Cabernet at under $25 (I list one). The following are some of my favorites.

Jason Stephens
Santa Clara Valley, 2007, $24
This is technically a Central Coast wine, but it drinks like a Napa Cabernet, full of cherries and herbs. Finishes silky and long. A tremendous value and a fine Cabernet to enjoy with fish.          

Conn Creek
Napa Valley, 2007, $17
Firmly structured with an elegant texture and fruit that suggests cassis and blackberry. Oak is nicely integrated. A fine Cab for roasts.

Watermark
Napa Valley, 2006, $45
A boutique wine from Phil Steinsriber, renowned winemaker for Diamond Creek. A refined style with layers of flavors that range from black currants to tobacco. Wonderful with rosemary crusted rack of lamb. 

Faust
Napa Valley, 2008, $43
Very powerful fruit, but not a “jammy” style. Luscious and full bodied with undertones of baking spices and cocoa. This is the Cabernet for grilled ribeye. 

Available at Madison’s finer wine stores. If unavailable, most purveyors will special order from their wholesalers if requested. Michael Kwas is wine director at L’Etoile restaurant. He writes this column monthly.

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