Cabernet sauvignon is the most celebrated of the red wine grapes. It is planted all over the world and produces a vast array of styles, tastes, and price points, but common touchstones include fruity, rich, and tannic notes. It has found fertile soil in almost every wine-rich country on the planet. Whether a $6 cab from South Australia, Chile, or California’s Central Valley or a four-figure wine from Australia’s Margaret River, Napa Valley, or Bordeaux, there’s at least one out there for you.
This month’s selections are from Apple Valley Liquors, 5470 W. 1057th St., 952-953-2525.
Funky Llama 2007
(Mendoza, Argentina), $6.99
This wine is soft with beautiful ripe berry fruit and a hint of vanilla. Drink it on its own or with your favorite pasta in red sauce.
Penfolds Thomas Hyland 2006
(South Australia), $13.99
A bigger wine than I expected, it’s a bit earthy like the California cabs of the 1980s as opposed to the strawberry bombs typical of South Australia. It’s balanced and ready to drink, but give it fifteen minutes of air before you gulp. Try with Italian sausage pizza.
(Stellenbosch, South Africa), $12.99
It reminded me of young Bordeaux—the fruit is there, but doesn’t quite hold up to the tannin. I probably drank it a couple of years too soon, so it’s a great value for a wine you can cellar. It will soften with time, then enjoy it with a New York strip and buttery roasted mushrooms.
Couino–Macul Finis Terrae 2005
(Maipo Valley, Chile), $23.99
60% cabernet, 40% merlot. The merlot is added to soften up the cabernet. This is a well-made wine and would be twice the price if it were from a known cab region in our country. Rich with dark plum fruit, nutmeg, and vanilla notes, it complements any chocolate dessert.
Ghost Block 2005
(Napa Valley), $58.99
A fantastic wine with great aging potential, it’s everything you should expect from a monster California cab in this price range. There are many wines that cost more money, but not many that are as lush, rich, and complex. My only warning: Be patient. This wine is too young to drink now, so give yourself a treat in about five years—that big tannic acid will drop off by your special occasion in 2014.
Bill Coy runs Vintage U, which organizes winetastings, classes, and events for corporate groups, wine enthusiasts, and the general public. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.