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A Tale of Cabernet Sauvignon – Three West Coast Value Options

IMG_1041Good Cabernet Sauvignon is not especially tough to find, however good Cabernet at a reasonable price can sometimes be a challenge.  Here we once again get into the endless discussion about what value means to you.  Can you comfortably spend $75 and throw a Napa Cabernet on the kitchen counter every night?  If so, congratulations.  We can’t, and really don’t think we would if we could.  Everyday, or almost every day, requires a lower pain level for most.  So that’s where you have to search, because there are good options out there.

We still drink Foxbrook Cabernet Sauvignon on a regular basis.  It runs about $4.  We also drink a bunch of other wines that are also not prohibitively expensive.  Yes, we are fortunate enough to be able to bring out a $50 bottle periodically (although we almost never pay that much for it).  It’s great when it happens.  Maybe it wouldn’t be so great if it happened every day.  What would the special bottle cost then?  $150….$200?  Not going there.

Here are three options to consider, and they range from no brainer to maybe, depending on your personal tastes.  They all check in around the $10-$12 range.  They’re all Cabernet Sauvignon from the West Coast of the US – two Calis and an entry from Washington State.  They’re all widely available, so everyone should be able to find them if so desired.  You probably should desire to find some of them.

Now we’re not saying their as good as the Louis Martini Monte Rosso, Caymus, Larkin, Montelena (etc, etc) Cabernets which run $50 and up, along with a host of others.  But they cost $10 – $12, so let’s look at them through that lens.

Here are the tasting notes for each:

IMG_1039Wine:  2012 Chateau St. Jean California Cabernet Sauvignon

Winery Location:   Sonoma, California

Tasted By:  Neil & Cheri             Date:   January 2015

Tasting Notes:  We’ve had some amazing Cab from Chateau St. Jean.  Their Cinq Cepages red blend is generally outstanding, was the Wine Spectator Wine of the Year some years ago, and is also out of our price range.  We’ve managed a few bottles over the years, but it’s not something we keep in the cellar.  This is their lower entry Cabernet, checking in at about $12.  It’s more purple than red in color, and the nose brings red fruit with rasberry being dominant.  There’s some oak as well.  The same red fruits cover the palate.  This is lighter in style than you might expect, and is medium bodied.  A nice acid ridge runs through it, and this wine would be (and was) very good with food, but it’s not our favorite sipper.  Length was decent but not great.  Try is and you might like it.  You might not.

Price Point –    $10 to $12.

Would We Buy It?    There are a lot of options in the $10 to $12 range, including the next two wines in this review.  This is decent, and Cheri liked it more than I did.  Certainly it’s not a bad bottle for the price and you won’t be terribly disappointed.  We’re not going to put it on the value list though.


IMG_1038Wine:  2012 Josh Cellars Cabernet by Joseph Carr

Winery Location:   California

Tasted By:  Neil & Cheri         Date:  January 2015

Tasting Notes:  We’ve had several vintages of Josh Cabernet, and they vary but are always a good value.  This line was started by Joseph Carr (who makes his Joseph Carr line from Napa grapes) in honor of his father.  The grapes for Josh are sourced from various counties around the Napa region.  Some of these are richer and some leaner, and this one is on the richer side.  No hard edges to be found anywhere here, no gritty tannins, just fruit.  Blackberry and currant are accentuated with spice and some smoke.  Medium+ in body it has very good length.  This is an easy drinking wine which would be a crowd pleaser.  Here we have another good value bottle of wine from Josh Cellars

Price Point –    Around $10 -$12 as well.

Would We Buy It?    Yes, we have bought many vintages of Josh over the years.  If you’re looking for a pretty safe bet in this price range you just found it.  It’s also a good by the glass choice when you’re out at a restaurant.  We will put this on the value list, because it’s always a good value.


IMG_1001Wine:  2012 Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon

Winery Location:   Washington State

Tasted By:  Neil & Cheri           Date:  December 2014

Tasting Notes:  H3 stand for Horse Heaven Hills, an AVA in Washington State east of the mountains.  Unlike California and Oregon, the majority of wine country in Washington resides in the rain shadow east of the coastal mountains, with almost desert like conditions in much of the area.  The Columbia River provides ample water for irrigation however, and this is wine country.  We thought the 2011 H3 Cab was excellent, a rich and fruity wine with great length.  The 2012 is probably better.  It’s dark red/purple, and rich in plum and blackberry aromas.  The oak is noticeable, and nice.  On the palate the wine is complex, with dark fruit and spicy notes.  Some vanilla seemed to be hanging around as well.  It’s full bodied and very long.  This is really excellent juice, especially for the money.

Price Point –    once again, $10 – $12

Would We Buy It?    We have.  Two cases to date and maybe more to come.  This wine is a crazy, no brainer great value.  Try it.  We have to put this on the value list.  It’s really good.

So we’ve given you three options to consider here, and none are terrible.  One is fabulous, one is very good and the other is decent.  Our recommendation is to try them all, but if you’re going to pick one make it the H3 Cab from Columbia Crest, which is one of the best $12 wines you’ll find anywhere.

A votre sante!

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