Retailer Wine Selections

For this issue, we asked members of the National Retailer Wine Panel to recommend their favorite cabernet sauvignons. As always, these selections include brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine’€™s retail price (which varies from store to store and market to market). If you’€™re a retail beverage professional who would like to learn about participating in our panel, call Richard Brandes at 212-353-3832, or email him at rbrandes@m2media360.com

FIVE STARS

(96) Larkmead Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (California). One of the top Napa cabernets tasted from the 2006 vintage; packed with rich flavors of dark cherry, cassis and a hint of graphite; extremely concentrated and balanced, the sweet fruit masks the tannins into a smooth lengthy finish. ($69)

(96) Viña Cobos Bramare Lujan de Cujo Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (Argentina). A gusto of aromatics’€¦ in the glass, it displays chocolate, spice and black currant; refined palate with layers of fruit and balanced acidity; a big wine but not overly powerful. ($44)

(95) Cavus Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (California). Combines bold, ripe, rich and supple currant and blackberry fruit with shades of anise, mineral, black licorice, mocha and graphite; picks up a complex earthiness, ending with a long, focused finish and fine-grained tannins. ($80

(95) Viader Proprietary Cabernet Blend 2005 (California). An iconic Napa Cab; massive and powerful starting off with flavors of blackberries and fresh herbs; the black fruit quickly changes to fresh red fruit flavors like strawberry; the wine finishes off with a punch of chocolate and lavender. ($90)

(94) Il Pareto Toscana IGT 2004 (Italy). A rich bouquet of currants, black cherries, cassis, pencil shavings and balsamic; in the mouth it is elegant with well integrated tannins; rich with Tuscan earthy tones, ripe cherries and black fruits; a great expression of 100% cabernet sauvignon; a long finish; it will develop for another decade. ($80)

(94) Kinneybrook Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (California). A rich but soft wine, typical of the best Sonoma has to offer; deep ruby/purple color is followed by loads of black currant fruit mixed with hints of smoke, earth, anise and dried herbs; medium to full body, wonderful ripeness and purity, with soft tannins. ($25)

(94) Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (California). Deep, dark and rich in color with an alluring bouquet, deftly crafted with layer of flavors that carry through from first sip to last swallow; a serious wine that is almost Bordeaux in nature but still maintains that west coast flair; all California cabs should aspire to this style. ($30)

(94) Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Washington State). Great balance of dark fruits, rich concentration and the perfect amount of tannins; the superb finish leaves you with a hint of chocolate. ($29)

(93) Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (California). In the glass, this wine is a dense, but brilliant ruby red, showcasing its youth and potential; the nose is dominated by black fruit, both berry and plum, with subtle spicy notes; rich and mouth-filling, with plenty of weight and structure; balanced and lingering finish, showcasing the wine’€™s pedigree; elegance in a bottle. ($28)

(93) Angels Landing Napa Valley Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (California). A rich bouquet full of blackberry compote backed up by subtle aromas of earth, savory meat and spice notes, but the fruit scents take the lead; beautifully balanced, it shows a deft touch with its tannin that gives it a firm grip, but this is nicely tempered by a plush mouthfeel; almost tart blackberry flavors start the palate off, followed by some lush and rich black fruit flavors; the finish is long and lush and rich as well. ($20)

(93) Ramey Napa Valley Claret Cabernet Blend 2005 (California). Bordeaux-style blend with great intensity, proper balance and the ability to age in the near term. ($40)

(93) Stonestreet Alexander Valley Mountain Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (California). This wine opens with an attractive blackberry and black current like bouquet with hints of smoke; on the palate, it is medium bodied and smooth; shows finesse with its tasty blackberry flavors and notes of strawberry rhubarb; the finish is dry and it has managed tannins that linger. ($40)

(93) Principe Corsini Marsiliana Toscana 2004 (Italy). This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and traces of six other varieties, is a brilliant, medium ruby in the glass; the nose is an interesting blend of spice, dark fruit, and subtle notes of mocha; elegance and structure combine on the palate to demonstrate the wine’€™s complexity and potential. ($54)

(93) Tolosa Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (California). Black cherry and berries explode from the glass; hints of plum, blackberry and spice with touches of cedar and oak bring the wine to life; the velvety finish leaves you wanting more. ($18)

(93) Rodney Strong Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (California). Black currant and plum aromas give way to juicy cherry and plum flavors; very rich and lush; velvety on the finish. ($23)

(92) Robert Foley Napa Valley Claret 2006 (California). Nearly 100% of this Bordeaux-inspired, knockout wine is made from Cabernet Sauvignon, which is evident from the dense black currant fruit and notes of dried herbs on the palate; it’€™s a notable 15.5% alcohol, but the firm tannins and complex fruit create a harmonious wine of great balance and structure. ($115)

(92) Famiglia Bianchi San Rafael Mendoza Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Argentina). On the nose, this wine shows classic notes of cassis, ripe figs and rosemary oils; in the mouth, it has a light fresh attack with pleasant acidity backed with persistent round and elegant tannins that are the preamble to a finish with rosemary tones and orange peel. ($19)

(92) Perez Cruz Valle del Maipo Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Chile). Perez Cruz is an outstanding producer showing off the finest qualities of Chilean wine; medium bodied and well balanced showing off flavors of green tea, black licorice and cassis; the wine finishes with a palate-coating flavor of bittersweet chocolate; drinks significantly above its price point; a real value. ($12)

(92) Terra Valentine Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (California). Blended with a touch of Merlot and Cabernet Franc; a nose of violet, cedar, spice box and blackberry; evolves quickly in the glass to display greater aromatics; bright fruit and a long finish complete the package. ($38)

(92) Beringer Knights Valley Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (California). Great complexity and depth while still retaining a big flavorful hit; it has a nice acidity, rich tannins, and a solid concentration of fruit. ($22)

(92) Ghost Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (California). Brimming with bright Oakville fruit; blackberry, tobacco and spice on the nose; cherry, cassis, and vanilla wrapped around slightly drying tannins and chocolate on the finish. ($52)

(92) Calistoga Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (California). Aromas of violet, currant, leather and ‘€œdust’€ lead to robust flavors of black fruit, vanillin, tobacco and earth with firm tannins; cellar two to five years. ($30)

(92) Pedroncelli Three Vineyards Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (California). A lovely floral nose with a hint of white pepper; on the palate, blackberry, truffle and spice with a hint of new oak; good value. ($14)

(92) Robert Keenan Spring Mountain Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (California). Cherry aroma; blackberry and cherry flavors with a background of oak; firm tannins with long finish ($49)

(92) Edgewood Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (California). Rich and concentrated, with plenty of up-front fruit on the palate; classic aromas of cherry and spice are followed by flavors of black fruits with cedar notes; rich, well-balanced and makes a perfect foil for rich dishes. ($20)

(92) Owen Roe Sharecropper Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Washington State). Wines that possess great texture, complexity of flavor and balance provide memorable wine experiences; this wine goes even further with each of its components delivered in an almost time-released quality, unfolding long flavors with purposeful precision; the bonus is a long finish with deeply integrated fine black spice. ($18)

FOUR STARS

(91) L’€™Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Washington State). Rich, dry, complex and elegant with soft tannins; tasty now and should develop over the next couple of years. ($35)

(91) Silverado Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (California). Estate-grown Cabernet, hand-crafted in a rich elegant style, with excellent fruit, tobacco and tannin. ($46)

(91) Trinchero Stagecoach Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (California). Deep, purple hue; nose of plummy fruits, cocoa powder, cedar shavings, and toasted oak; after an hour of air, herbaceous, almost minty aromas begin to appear, along with a touch of anise; medium-plus body; the palate is filled with dark fruits, ripe black currant, melted black licorice, and herbs; tannins are slightly drying on the moderate finish. ($40)

(91) Montes Alpha Colchagua Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Chile). Brilliant medium ruby red in the glass, the nose is dominated by red and black berry fruit, with subtle hints of toast and vanilla; wonderful fruit on the palate, with balanced tannins and lots of weight; the finish is long and balanced, as well; ready to drink and a keeper. ($23)

(91) Jade Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (California). It has a light aroma of spicy black cherry that may have opened up later if the bottle had lasted long enough; flavors of caramel apple and blueberry stand out; medium tannins in this medium to full bodied cab. ($12)

(91) St. Francis Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (California). Round and supple upfront, yet the core is chock full of black fruits and cocoa flavors; a firm backbone and finish that one and all can enjoy; a wine that will never let you down. ($20)

(91) Andeluna Tupengato Mendoza Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Argentina). Aromas of vanilla, chocolate and cherries lead to full body with flavors of plums and ripe berries; hints of spice on the finish produce an outstanding well balanced wine; wonderful value. ($13)

(91) Laurel Glen Vineyard Sonoma Counterpoint 2005 (California). Its pleasingly funky nose offers aromas of forest floor, lawn clippings and red flowers; the taste is sheer pleasure, luscious and giving with layers of cranberry, dark chocolate, orange zest and an anise note on the long finish; it makes you want to keep coming back for another taste. ($30)

(91) Luigi Bosca Reserve Maipu Mendoza Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Argentina). This wine has a deep, ruby color with a bouquet of cedar, white pepper and currants, showing secondary notes of dry dates and vanilla; in the mouth, it has a medium light fruity attack that evokes tart tatin, pan juices and bitter chocolate with vanilla undertones and cayenne pepper; a medium finish. ($15)

(90) Oberon Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (California). Michael Mondavi offers a great value in this wine; rich flavors of cherry, plum, raspberry and blackberry are followed by a nice mixture of chocolate and toffee on the finish. ($22)

(90) Wyatt Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (California). This wine is soft and juicy with sweet stewed plums on the palate and a substantial grip; aromas of wild raspberry, pomegranate and subtle notes of vanilla, fennel seed and Indian spice; a fine pairing to herb-stuffed roast pork loin. ($13)

(90) TerraNoble Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Chile). This wine has an intense nose of ground espresso that carries through to the palate and melds with black fruit and dark chocolate flavors; full bodied and rich with hints of smoke, and finishes long; quite complex for the price. ($15)

(90) Joel Gott Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (California). The refreshingly supple texture of this wine gives way to mouthwatering layers of chewy black plum, black cherry and seamlessly integrated dark spice; this wine manages to be fully loaded with complex flavors, without sacrificing balance. ($17)

(90) Santa Rita Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Chile). Smooth and dry with a velvety texture rarely found in cabs at this price; an good value. ($12)

(90) Cooper Station Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (California). A top value cabernet; smooth, polished and elegant, offering complex plum, currant, spice and vanilla aromas and flavors harmoniously balanced; finishes rich and supple, with smoothly integrated tannins. ($15)

(90) Brassfield High Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (California). The Brassfield family’€™s High Serenity Ranch is 1,800 feet above Clear Lake on an extinct volcano; wine is full of soft, ripe, black fruit with a long, spicy end. ($20)

(90) Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (California). Bold, robust and chock full of currant, black cherry, pepper, ‘€œcigar box;’€ the tannins are firm; nice to drink now and can be cellared for two to five years. ($18)

(90) Ladera Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (California). Fruity nose suggestive of blackberry, plum and cassis flavors; firm tannins and medium long finish. ($40)

(89) Seven Hills Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Washington). An outstanding wine from Washington State from a top rate producer; dominated by fresh rose petals and violets; this lighter style cabernet blend smells like a florist shop; a huge mineral-driven finish wrapped in flavors of red licorice and raspberries. ($25)

(89) Folie à Deux Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (California). Visually, the wine is a dark, brilliant ruby, with hints of purple, revealing its youth; on the nose, the black fruit dominates with hints of spice and toast; in the mouth, it shows lots of solid black fruit, and finishes with a lingering spiciness. ($28)

(89) Liberty School Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (California). The aromatics are a wonderful combination of berry with a hint of spice; the fruit opens up adding just a hint of earth and wood; agreat representation of Paso Robles. ($14)

(89) Foxglove Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (California). The aromas are engaging and pleasingly ample with dark ripe fruit; the flavors range from black currants and blackberries to a sophisticated dark chocolate-scented and black mineral core; each of these remain true and focused through the lingering finish. ($14)

(88) Columbia Crest Grand Estate Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Washington). Luscious and velvety are the best ways to describe this Cabernet; this wine makes the perfect present to any dinner party. ($12)

(88) Ramsay North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (California). Classic California Cabernet at a nice price; medium-bodied with dry black fruit flavors and a perfect wine to pair with a good steak. ($12)

(88) Alta Vista Mendoza Classic Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Argentina). It shows off a little spice in the bouquet but those classic notes of cocoa and oak soon arrive; full-bodied and dry, it shows off a good dose of tannin, but stays quite forward with its fruit flavors. ($12)

(88) Altosur Tupungato-Mendoza Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Argentina). Spicy notes in the nose give way to ripe black fruit aromas; soft and plush, it shows off a lot of fresh fruit flavors, a bit of tartness and excellent mouthfeel; hints of cedar and eucalyptus offer a nice accent, and it maintains excellent balance. ($12)

(88) San Elias Colchagua Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Chile). This wine has a nice purple color and the bouquet practically jumps from the glass; smoky, meaty notes; soon ripe cassis and black cherry emerge; the palate is similar, with the fruit taking the lead; nice tannin and acidity perk the fruit up again near the finish, which is crisp yet lingering. A top value. ($7)

(88) Educated Guess Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (California). Blackberry nose with blackberry and cherry flavors with a hint of vanilla; medium tannins and a nice finish; good buy. ($19)

(88) Santa Rita Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Chile). Ripe and fruit forward with Chilean sensibility; balanced and concentrated; well-made. ($20) (Palm Bay Imports)

(88) Ste Michelle Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (California). An underrated, undervalued wine from Washington; well made, great tasting and affordable to one and all. ($15)

(87) Chateau Font-Mars 2007 (France). Fresh and vibrant; varietally correct; a nice value and a catchy label. ($11)

(87) J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (California). Wonderful ‘€œhouse’€ cabernet; ripe fruit flavors, soft, easy-to-drink texture; real value. ($15)

(87) Sobon Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (California). Big lush fruit drives the nose and palate in this full-bodied wine; the dried cherry flavors on the palate fade to notes of dark chocolate and coffee. ($14)

(87) Antis Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Argentina). Opens with bright dark fruits and smoky oak; medium bodied with dried fig and currant undertones; rich, pleasing finish and a competitive price. ($15)

(86) Hahn Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (California). Spicy nose with touch of vanilla; red fruit flavors, cherry and some cassis; moderate tannins and moderate finish; good buy. ($13)

(86) Mendoza Station Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Argentina). Bright red fruits highlight the nose of this crowd-pleasing cabernet sauvignon; spice, cherry, and raspberry flavors dominate on the palate. ($7)

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