Why We ♡ Cab

Classy lady holding a glass of red wine
I don't know if there's a varietal with more hot takes than American Cabernet Sauvignon. Some see it as the most important grape, others the most overplanted.

In my opinion, it’s one of the most serious varietals when made right. As famous Napa grower Steve Matthiasson said to me, “Cab is bad at making simple wine.” That is, look elsewhere for your everyday sipper. And, when it comes to those from Napa valley, don't fool yourself into finding inexpensive (but high quality) wine when there is none. Square up to what it is: at best, exceptional cabernet with unapologetic pricing.

That doesn't mean you won't find great value in American Cabernet. There’s a ton. And personally, my favorite Cabernet in California isn’t from Napa or Sonoma. We lay out what we love below. From the splurge to the sleeper steal – this is how we Cabernet.

– Chris
Smart for the Money
This is the newest wine from one of Oregon's savviest natural producers. Though it’s technically a blend of many things, it behaves like black currant speckled Cabernet (and it is 60% Cab) from a much-more-expensive producer. We can’t recommend this wine enough for the cab lovers in our gifting and/or dinner circle.’ $33 →
The 100 Pt Guy, Thomas Rivers Brown
One of the most prolific consulting winemakers around, Thomas Rivers Brown is a name that touches so many iconic labels in Napa and Sonoma. Rivers-Marie, however, is his personal project with his wife, Genevieve Marie Welsh.
He picks a touch earlier than for many of his clients', for a more restrained style that puts texture and nuance over bombastic fruit. This philosophy carries over to his use of oak, which is kept in check to preserve the grapes' natural character. These are powerful yet subtle bottles that demand attention in the glass. Perfection! $105+ →
A Place We Seriously ♡
With own-rooted vines planted in 1971, and organic farming since 1990, Carmel Valley's Massa Vineyard is now being sourced by some of "New California's" brightest stars. Arnot-Roberts. Jaimee Motley. Outward. All making vibrant, expressive, mountain Cabernet.
A bottle we're digging right now is from Outward – a project from Natalie Siddique and Ryan Pace, who've set out to make terroir-first (and mega drinkable) authentic California wine. This bottle is destemmed, unfined, unfiltered – the pure essence of Massa. And, Cali Cab under $50 that rocks. $48 →
The Legends
We cannot send this email without mentioning these producers. These are that upper echelon of "exceptional cabernet with unapologetic pricing" we mentioned earlier. And we mean it. The lineup in stock right now is 💣💥, just in time for a special table (or a special gift). Maybe a mag of '16 Heitz? SHOP BIG GUNS →
Cab's Origin Story
In our November LEON CIRCLE, we dove deep into where Cabernet Sauvignon is from; including how (remarkably!) herbaceous, medium-bodied Cabernet Franc was originally crossed with zesty, white Sauvignon Blanc to create the big and beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon we know today.
So of course, we have to mention that there is some incredibly solid Cali Cab Franc in stock rn, from many of the same producers who make our favorite Cabernet Sauvignon: