Cabernet Sauvignon is the world’s most popular red wine grape, formed as a cross from Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc, both native originally to France. But when it comes to Cabernet Sauvignon, what is the best?
A simple question, with a complex answer, for one very simple reason – price! To help you find the best option, we’ve broken down some different Cabernet Sauvignon bottles at an array of price points, so you’ll be able to find one which perfectly fits your price range.
Before that though, let’s take a little detour and explore Cabernet Sauvignon itself – the characteristics of the wine, and what you can expect from a good bottle.
Cabernet Sauvignon – what to expect
When it comes to this wonderful wine, the fruit notes are typically powerful, featuring red fruits such as cherry and blackcurrant. What often sets a Cab-Sauv apart though, are the non-fruity notes – spices, and an almost herbaceous palette. In addition, you’ll see final notes of minerality – the same kind you may expect from a Riesling (albeit, in a red wine this time).
As you might expect, this is quite an array of flavors – meaning that you can find a wide range of bottles when it comes to Cabernet Sauvignon.
Past the flavor notes themselves, you’ll find this wine to be on the dry side of the sweetness spectrum, with medium-to-high acidity and tannins. All in all, you’ve got a lot of potential complexity here, which means it might take a bit of time to find a fantastic bottle, but once you do, you are in for a treat.
Although most commonly, and originally, associated with France, you can now find incredible Cabernet Sauvignon grown around with world – with exceptional bottles also hailing from the USA, Australia, South Africa, and many other regions.
Best Cabernet Sauvignon – <$10 / <£10
On the low price range, you always have to be careful when looking for wine. While this varies from country to country, the tax laws levied against alcohol (and sometimes specifically wine) typically mean that on the lower end of the price spectrum you’re paying significantly more in taxes than you’re actually paying for the wine.
That being said, lower price doesn’t have to mean bad quality, and it isn’t reasonable to expect everyone to be able to routinely be spending a large amount on a bottle. With that in mind, we’re happy to present our candidate for the best cabernet sauvignon in this price range…Château Guiot 2018 Costières de Nîmes!
Like many Cabernet Sauvignon, Costières de Nîmes exhibits the tell-tale purple color, and herbaceous aromas across the nose which lead into stronger fruit flavors of forest fruits. As we sail into the finish, you’ll find it refreshingly smooth for a cab-sauv, resulting in an easy drinking red.
Definitely a great go-to if you’re looking for something on the lower price range to pair with a meal, or exploring this wine for the first time and looking for the best cheap Cabernet Sauvignon.
Best Cabernet Sauvignon – $10-$15 / £10-15
Moving into the low-mid price range, things get interesting, and you can do a lot of searching to try and find the best Cabernet Sauvignon for your money.
For us, we have to go with the Château Recougne Bordeaux Supérieur, coming in at $14/£12.
Château Recougne is a French vineyard based in Bordeaux with a deep cultural history going back as far as the 16th Century, where it was honored even by royal families!
We discovered this wine during a small wine tasting event, and we were frankly impressed with the versatility and flavor considering the relatively low price. Notes of cherry and cedar are coupled with a refined ‘earthiness’ which balances wonderfully against the fruit and spice notes to give a wine which seems more refined than the cost may indicate.
Although we enjoyed it at a tasting event (and freshly aerated, as you may see from the adjacent photo) we also snagged a few bottles to serve up alongside dinner. Our best pairing so far? Lamb ragu!
Best Cabernet Sauvignon – $15-$30 / £15-25
Moving up through the price range, you’ll find the variation of this wine really starts to open up. Some bottles in this cost region are incredible, and some really fall flat. For us, the best of the bunch is Château Grand Faurie La Rose Saint-Émilion Grand Cru.
Now, before we’re judged, we’ll admit to cheating a little here – this is actually a predominantly Merlot blend. But before you drag us to the gallows for execution, hear us out, because it’s the Cabernet Sauvignon aspect of the blend which elevates this wine from ‘fine’ to ‘incredible’.
Straight on the nose, you’re hit with spices and wood, reminiscent of a slowly burning cedar fire. As the wine hits your lips though, you’ll immediately taste the rich, buttery, blackcurrant flavors which power through to bring this wonderful wine spreading across your palette.
A perfect wine for casual drinking, or paired with an expertly prepared leg of lamb or venison.
Best Cabernet Sauvignon – $30-65 / £25-50
Once again, the pricing is opening up a little here, and you’ll find it’s at this point that the selections available start to level in quality, but decrease in quantity. Finding a quality bottle of Cabernet for $30-65 (£25-50) is certainly simple, but we want to offer you the best we’ve found – Château Lynch-Moussas 2013, Pauillac.
With a Château dating to the 1800s, earning it’s legendary Cru status in the same century, you’re already into a wine which is rich with cultural history. In the 1900s however, Château Lynch-Moussas was acquired by the owners of the renowned Château Batailley – elevating the status of Lynch-Moussas and bringing a wealth of expertise in viticulture.
This bold, Bordeaux Pauillac, features a wide array of notes – blueberry, blackberry, blackcurrant (hell, all the berries), along with some wonderful spice notes of tobacco and mild smoked woods. The tannins, though present and notable, only further the complexity of the taste, culminating in a glorious wine you certainly won’t regret finding.
Best Cabernet Sauvignon – $65/£50+
For us here, there’s a clear winner, and one in fact we’ve reviewed in great specific detail in the past – Château Musar Gaston Hochar, one of our favorite wines here at FineWineMaster. Château Musar is the world renowned winery located in Ghazir, Lebanon, just 25km from the capital of Beirut, and after a brief decanting, this bottle will be something you’ll be raving about.
With a silky mouthfeel, and spice tastes on the nose of cinnamon and nutmeg, this Cabernet Sauvignon blend comes through with fruity notes which linger on the palette. A perfect wine for pairing with a bold dinner dish, or relaxing in the evening and enjoying a wonderful bottle.
You’ll typically find this bottle around the £55 or $70 price range, which puts it just into the upper price range. Despite this though, we’d put this bottle in comparable price range of bottles triple the cost, which is a rare but exceptional consideration.