Cabernet sauvignon is one of the most widely planted grape varieties across the globe and is cultivated in nearly every major wine-producing region. The grape is a cross between cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc and was first created in France in the 1600s. Cabernet sauvignon is known for its thick skins, low yields and resistance to rot, insects and other viticultural pests.
No matter where it's grown, cabernet sauvignon creates medium- to full-bodied wines with prominent tannins and abundant natural acidity, both of which contribute to the wine’s long aging potential. In cooler climate areas, wines with a base of cabernet sauvignon tend to show earthier flavors of tart red fruit, cedar and menthol, while warmer climate regions produce jammier bottles noted with flavors of black cherries, chocolate and overripe raspberries.
From the Left Bank of Bordeaux to sunny Southern Hemisphere regions, get to know this robust varietal through these six bottles.
Casa Lapostolle Cuvée Alexandre (Colchagua Valley, Chile; $21)
Chile has become a hotbed for affordable and delicious Southern Hemisphere cabernet sauvignon production. Lapostolle Wines was founded in 1994 by French couple Alexandra Marnier-Lapostolle and Cyril de Bournet and is one of the country’s most exciting and influential producers. Fruit for this wine is cultivated organically in Apalta, one of the Colchagua Valley’s top growing sites. Flavors of black currants, overripe cherries and light toast dominate this sophisticated wine. This is truly one of the best-value bottles coming out of Chile at the moment.
Château Lacoste Borie Pauillac (Bordeaux, France; $42)
Bordeaux’s Left Bank is one of the O.G. regions for growing cabernet sauvignon. (The region’s Right Bank is regarded for its merlot-dominant blends.) The Left Bank’s cab-heavy blends are known for their gritty tannins, serious backbone and crazy ability to age, as well as their food-friendliness on the table. This “second wine” comes from Pauillac’s prestigious Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste and is perfect for either drinking now or laying down for a few years. The wine is medium-bodied and earthy, marked by flavors of red fruit, cedar and cigar box.
Corison (Napa Valley, Calif.; $113)
For those looking for a worthwhile splurge, look no further than Cathy Corison’s impeccable cabernets. These wines embody all things iconic Napa: texture, body and undeniable fruit-forwardness, without the over-extraction and heavy oak that many neighboring vignerons implement. Corison has been cultivating fruit between Rutherford and St. Helena and vinifying her elegant wines since 1987, and not much has changed in the cellar since her debut. Notes of black cherry, cinnamon and wet earth dominate this juicy and exquisite bottle.
Januik (Columbia Valley, Wash.; $32)
Washington State’s wine scene has exploded over the last few decades, and it's no surprise why. The state’s cool continental climate, coupled with ocean proximity and mountain influence, create an extremely sought-after balance in fruit. The Januiks are no strangers to vinifying top-notch wines in the Columbia Valley. This dense yet harmonious cabernet is loaded with flavors of cassis, blackberry and warm baking spice. Pair it with your favorite grilled meats and veggies.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
No Fine Print (California; $21)
Forget the stereotypes you’ve heard about California cabernet. Founded by sommelier Ryan Arnold, Pat Corcoran and Tim Smith, No Fine Print seeks to break down barriers within the wine world by bringing affordable and well-made wine to the masses. Unlike the overextracted bottles of California’s past, this bold yet balanced bottle of cab is perfect for lovers of full-bodied reds. Lush notes of red fruit and juicy black cherries are balanced by silky tannins and bright acid. This is California’s new wave of wine at its finest.
Tenuta San Guido Le Difese (Tuscany; $33)
Ever heard of a super Tuscan? You have Tenuta San Guido to thank for much of the style’s renown. These world-class winemakers began planting cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah along the coasts of Tuscany during the mid-20th century, a radical move at the time. Today, super Tuscans are beloved by Italians, Americans and full-bodied red drinkers worldwide. Drinking a bottle of this affordable cab-dominant option is basically like drinking history.