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Wine Reviews

Top 6 Cabernet Sauvignon Varietal Wines or Blends

Making Choices Easier for Sommeliers

Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet blends are critical for any wine list. Ensuring crowd-pleasing wines in this category that will augment repeat and by-the-glass sales can be a daunting task for wine directors. We provide a solution with the top 6 wines in this category. Get the 2024 list.

Cabernet Sauvignon varietal wines and Cabernet blends are ideal for mid to upscale restaurant wine programs due to their versatility, quality, and broad appeal. As a globally recognized grape variety, Cabernet Sauvignon produces wines that range from robust and full-bodied to elegantly structured, making them suitable for a wide array of dishes. This versatility allows restaurants to pair Cabernet Sauvignon wines with various menu items, from rich, meaty dishes like steak and lamb to hearty vegetarian options like mushroom risotto. The wine’s characteristic flavors of blackcurrant, plum, and spice, combined with its firm tannins and balanced acidity, ensure that it can complement and enhance the dining experience for patrons seeking a memorable meal. 

Moreover, Cabernet blends add an extra layer of complexity and sophistication to a restaurant's wine program. By combining Cabernet Sauvignon with other varietals such as Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot, winemakers can craft wines that exhibit nuanced flavors and a harmonious balance. These blends often reflect the terroir and winemaking traditions of their regions, offering diners a taste of unique wine heritage. Including a selection of both single-varietal Cabernet Sauvignons and expertly crafted blends allows restaurants to cater to a diverse clientele, from wine enthusiasts seeking specific regional expressions to casual drinkers looking for a reliable and enjoyable wine choice. This dual approach elevates the wine list and positions the restaurant as a destination for high-quality, thoughtful wine selections. 

The problem many sommeliers and wine directors face, however, is that literally thousands of Cab Sauv wines and Cab-dominant blends exist in the marketplace. Fortunately, the judging panel at the 2024 London Wine Competition has helped narrow down that list. The panel was made up mostly of sommeliers and wine buyers focused on on-premise sales.  

Here’s the list of the top six Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab blends, reflecting the judge’s opinions after blind tastings in 2024.

1. The Justin 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon won 95 points. Made in Paso Robles following the same painstaking techniques as the highest quality, traditionally crafted Bordeaux-style wines. This is a perfect by-the-glass wine. The judges found floral and red and black cherry aromas with oak spice character. On the palate, a crowd-pleasing fruit-forward style offered generous black cherry flavors and fine tannin. Medium acidity and medium finish. The 2020 Justin Isosceles also performed well, gaining 93 points.

Image: Justin Cabernet Sauvignon

2. Château Marquis De Terme’s 2018 vintage Cabernet Sauvignon won 94 points. This AOC Margaux,  Grand Cru Classé Bordeaux chateau will be a bold addition to any mid- to high-end wine list. The judges describe predominant aromas of dark berry & stone fruit, complemented by notes of black fruits & bramble. Fruit burst on the palate, particularly blackcurrant with hints of black cherry, showcasing the wine's freshness.

Image: Château Marquis De Terme’s

3. Chateau Fonbadet from the 2019 vintage won 93 points.  Domaines Peyronie in AOC Pauillac, Bordeaux, has made huge advances in winemaking quality, respecting Bordeaux tradition while crafting consumer-pleasing red wines. This has a medium-intense herbaceous nose with ripe blackcurrant, sweet spices, and a touch of earthiness on the palate. Powerful, concentrated, rich, and fine-grained tannins, chocolate, and coffee finish.

Image: Chateau Fonbadet

4. St Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 from Wakefield Taylors Wines in Clare Valley, Australia, offers a true reflection of its terroir, scoring 92 points. The judges found an expressive red fruit character on the nose. Black cherry and blackberry combined on the palate, with complexity coming from oak. This is another great by-the-glass option. It’s a full-bodied wine with spice and menthol notes alongside well-developed tannins.

Image: St Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon

5. The Choosy Beggars Cabernet Merlot from Goon Tycoons garnered 92 points for its vintage 2021 red blend. This crowd-pleaser represents Australia from Margaret River with ripe black fruit aromas wafting from the glass. The palate features flavors of black fruits and hints of spice. A well-balanced, full-bodied wine with soft tannins & attractive balance, with freshness and good length.

Image: Choosy Beggars

6. The Pauletts 2019 Clare Valley Cabernet Merlot. Another Australian entry rounds out the top six recommendations for your wine list. Offers black fruit jam on the nose, with rosemary and hints of mint and oak on the palate. It won 90 points. This wine is well-balanced and pleasant with a good finish. Another by-the-glass winner! 

Image: Pauletts CAB

Choosing the right Cabernet Sauvignon varietal wines and blends for a restaurant's wine program can be a daunting task, given the vast number of options available in the market. However, the London Wine Competition's rigorous judging process provides a reliable guide for sommeliers and wine directors seeking to elevate their offerings.  

The top six selections from the 2024 competition highlight wines that not only showcase exceptional quality and craftsmanship but also offer versatility and broad appeal, making them perfect additions to any mid to upscale wine list. From the rich and elegant Justin 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon to the bold and complex Chateau Marquis De Terme 2018, these wines promise to enhance the dining experience and cater to a diverse clientele, ensuring that every pour contributes to a memorable meal. And memories result in repeat sales. . . .

Call for domestic and international submission is now open for London Wine Competition. Enter your wines before 31 August 2024 to get super early bird pricing. Register now and ship later to save.

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