Nothing’s better than a delicious, perfectly aged Cabernet. But what’s not so wonderful is that most of the finer Cabernets can cost a small fortune. That’s why I wanted to pass along some strategies to help you find a top quality Cabernet for under $20.
The first cost-saving strategy I can pass along is to stay away from the most well-known regions for this variety. Napa Valley, California and Bordeaux, France are the two most well-known regions for this grape. But, as you probably already know, notoriety often translates into high prices for the consumer. So, my suggestion is to look for high-rated (90+) Cabernets from other lesser known areas like Washington, Australia, Chile and other parts of California. And they’re out there, I promise, it just takes a bit of looking.
Another useful strategy when searching for a great Cabernet under $20 is to look for Cabernet based blends. In fact, the Cabernet grape makes for an excellent blending partner with lots of other varieties. For example, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot all blend beautifully with Cabernet.
Below are six of the most highly rated (90+ range) Cabernets and Cabernet blends under $20. I’ll be honest, I am certainly not a wine expert, so I left it to the professionals and pulled reviews from well-respected wine critics on each wine.
Decoy Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($19.99 Wine.com)
Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma County, California
Blend: 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot.
From its deep ruby and violet hue to its enticing fruit-forward aromas of blackberry, currant and black cherry, this wine showcases a great Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon. On the palate, the lush fruit is balanced by smooth, rich tannins and lovely layers of spice, cocoa and hints of sweet and toasty French oak.
Wine Enthusiast Rating: 90
“Made for broad release, this wine impresses for its rounded, approachable layers of dried herb and anise, the tannin and oak lightly applied. Blended with 10% Merlot, it finds a jolt of richness on the finish, a showcase for notions of chocolate, cherry and blackberry.”
Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($19.99 Wine.com)
Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia
Notes of mint and five-spice are evident on a sturdily constructed palate of black olive, herbs and dark fruits alongside fine, ripe tannins that will support the development of additional character and complexity if cellared. Drink Now to 2025+.
Australian Wine Companion Rating: 94
“Excellent crimson-purple hue; herb and bay leaf announce their presence on the bouquet, blackcurrant quickly following and taking control on the palate. In fact, this is a very successful Tahbilk Cabernet.”
Haras de Pirque Hussonet Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($11.99 Wine.com)
Cabernet Sauvignon from Maipo Valley, Chile
Deep purple-red in color, this wine has aromas of bitter chocolate, cedar and a hint of mint. Well-balanced with smooth tannins, this wine is drinkable immediately.
The Wine Advocate Rating: 90
“The 2010 Hussonet Cabernet Sauvignon is a ripe, somehow unusual Cabernet Sauvignon with aromas of flowers, lavender and thyme, ripe blueberries and plums, perfumed and quite showy, a little intoxicating. The palate is medium-bodied, with a velvety texture provided by some soft tannins and with good acidity and liveliness, with the typical herbal finish of Cabernet. Unusual, very pleasant and great value.”
Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($10.99 Wine.com)
Cabernet Sauvignon from Columbia Valley, Washington
This bold style Cabernet Sauvignon displays great complexity and structure. There are aromas of dark berry fruits and plum on the nose with chocolate and vanilla on the palate. Also, this wine pairs well with beef tenderloin or hearty pasta.
Wine Spectator Rating: 91
“Broad and generous, open-textured and inviting. Also has a cherry, currant and red plum flavors that swirl enticingly around the fine-grained tannins and creamy oak on the finish.”
Mercer Canyons Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($13.99 Wine.com)
Cabernet Sauvignon from Horse Heaven Hills, Columbia Valley, Washington
Blend: 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 6% Syrah
This warm vintage gave us ripe Cabernet Sauvignon with aromas of red cherries and cassis. The voluminous fruit carries through in the mouth. Barrel aging the wine brings hints of warm baking spices and adds depth and complexity. Also, Powdery tannins give structure to the wine, while maintaining an elegant, balanced mouthfeel.
Wine Spectator Rating: 90
“Focused, ripe and generous, with red plum, currant and spice flavors, coming together harmoniously against lightly nippy tannins. Also, a hint of orange peel shows on the extended finish.”
Shannon Ridge Home Ranch Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($19.99 Wine.com)
Cabernet Sauvignon from Lake County, North Coast, California
Aromas of blackberry, cranberry, caramel and sweet vanilla. Also, the flavors include ripe dark cherry, dried cranberry, and notes of cedar and soft oak. Additionally, this wine is full-bodied and rich, with a solid mid-palate and a long and lingering finish with silky tannins.
Wilfred Wong of Wine.com Rating: 93
“An excellent effort, the 2013 Shannon Ridge Home Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon displays bright red and black fruit aromas and flavors. Rich and lively on the palate, this wine offers generous and long flavors that stay long in the finish.”
Now that you know about these great Cabernets and Cabernet blends under $20, you’re ready to test them out for yourself. You can buy all of these on Wine.com. Just be sure to use these Wine.com coupons, offers and promo codes to save.
So, here’s a toast to happy tasting!