In sampling several hundred wines at trade tastings and events, plus browsing local merchants for great values under $!5, we found some fine candidates the past two months and tweeted about them. The following scored well in their price range. Happy quaffing!

Cabernet and Blends

Quaffing value Chilean Cabernet ’11 Santa Rita “120” $7. Herbaceous, Syrah-like nose; mid-body, grapey; decent tannins. w/burgers, BBQ

Value Medoc ’09 Chateau Prignac $8. Dark garnet; berries, jam, wood nose; mid-body; a little tight; some character, earthiness. w/pasta

Soft, fruity Mendoza Cabernet ’10 Norton Barrel Select $10. Herbaceous, varietal nose; mid-body; decent tannins. w/pasta, BBQ.

Value Bordeaux Superieur ’10 Ribebon $11. Cocoa, mint, wood nose (60% Merlot, 30 Cab, 10 Cab F); mid-body, tannic, decent finish. w/pasta

Quaffable red blend Columbia Crest ’11 H3 Les Chevaux $12. Jam, prune, berry nose; mid-body; grapey, not fat, w/munchies, stew


Quaffable value Bordeaux ’11 Domaine Rothschild $12. Light berry, cherry nose, cocoa (Cab/Merlot); soft, round, some character. w/cheeses

Quaffable Calif. Cabernet ’10 Donovan Park $12. Light mint, herbaceous nose; mid-body, decent flavor, improves with air. Burger wine.

Grill/BBQ Cabernet ’10 Chateau Ste Michelle $13. herbaceous, ripe grape nose; jam; mid-body; grapey; some tannins. Fat finish

Great value Chilean Cabernet ’10 Santa Rita Reserva $13. Mint, herbaceous, peppery nose; mid-body; fruity; tannin-acid balance. w/beef.

Value party Sonoma Cabernet ’11 Alexander Valley Vineyards $13. Light nose, berries, mint, wood; light-mid body; decent flavor, finish.

ImageFine value Montagne-St. Emilion ’10 Croix-Beausejour $14. Cocoa, jam nose (75% Merlot 15 Malb 10 Cab Franc); balanced; long fruity finish.

Barossa burger wine ’11 Tait Ball Buster $14 (75% Cab; 23 Shiraz; 3 Merlot). Prune, jam nose; mid-fat body; soft tannins; hot (14.9 alc).

Nicely structured $15 Mendoza Cabernet ’11 Casarena Riserva. Peppery, black cherry, wood nose; balanced; semi-tight; big berry finish,

Fine Cabernet value Pine Ridge 09 Forefront $15. Mint, berries, cassis nose; mid-body; good fruit, flavor; soft tannins; long finish.

Value Haut Medoc ’07 Chateau Bernadotte $17. Berry (59 percent Cabernet), mint, plum, mineral nose; mid-body; long chewy fruity finish. w/pasta

Well-made Medoc ’09 Pierre de Montignac $18. Cabernet, Merlot, Cab Franc blend. Ripe grape, Merlot, cassis nose; mid-body; tight tannins

Chewy Napa Cabernet ’11 Napa Cellars $18. mint, berries, ripe grape, light oak nose; mid-body; hard-edged; good Cab flavor. w/beef

Food-friendly Spring Mountain Napa Cabernet ’09 Maroon $25. Ripe grape, berry, mint nose; balanced; good fruit; tannins rounding out. W/beef.

Browsing in the Library

Evolving Napa Cabernet ’06 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Artemis. Mint, chocolate, peppery nose; chewy tannins; almost sweet fruity finish.

Food-friendly Napa Cabernet ’06 Clos du Val (6% Cab Fr, 5 Merlot, 4 P. Verdot). Peppery varietal nose; oak; long smooth finish.

Evolving Pauillac ’05 Clerc Milon. Chocolate, earth, berry, oak nose; tight tannins, good acids; big fruit extract; long finish. w/beef


Smooth older Margaux ’00 du Tertre. Chocolate, earth, mineral, mint, strawberry nose; mid-body; Merlot-Cabernet blend; rich finish.

Rich Lafite 2d label Carruades ’00. Classic Pauillac nose; leather, tobacco, earth; balanced, fine structure; long rich Cabernet finish.

Fine evolving Spottswoode ’99 Cabernet. Older Cab nose; berries, wood, smoke; balanced; easing tannins; rich round finish. w/beef