30 Napa Cabs Under $30 that Deliver Flavor and Value

A Vertical Tasting at Pride

Who doesn’t love a big, bold, juicy Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley? The good news is you can pick up excellent offerings of this beloved varietal wine without putting a dent in your wallet. Go on, get shopping.

1. Conn Creek 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $30, 90 points Rich and ripe, with Cabernet fruit swamping the mouth with jammy blackberries, cherries, currants and chocolate. As fruity as it is, it’s well structured, with firm tannins and a fine edge of acidity. Beautiful to drink now, but give it some breathing time after opening, or decant.

2. Edge 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley);  $22, 87 points Made from a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot and 11% Syrah this herbal Cab divulges peppercorn on the nose as well as cola, leather and cedar. With structured tannins that don’t get in the way, it’s food-friendly and yet hearty, well-priced for the quality, with a finish of ripe blueberry and raspberry.

3. Fuse 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley), $30, 85 points Here’s a big, rich, fruity Cabernet that satisfies for its array of blackberry, cherry, currant, mineral and oak flavors. It’s dry and tannic, and the overall quality is quite high. The price makes it a good Buy. Drink through 2014

4. B Side 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley), $25, 90 points This offers everything you want in a Napa Cabernet, and at a decent price. It’s dry, balanced in acidity and tannins, and elegantly constructed, with classic blackberry and cassis liqueur flavors touched by oak. Not an ager, and doesn’t pretend to be; just a nice wine to drink now.

5. Franciscan 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $28, 89 points Good price for a Cabernet this elegant and classy. It’s not an something for the cellar, but offers everything it has now, with ripe blackberry, black currant and cedar flavors that are wrapped into sturdy, smooth tannins.

6. Robert Mondavi 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $28, 90 points The winery shows its prowess with making delicious, affordable larger-production wines with this bright and easy drinking Cabernet, a study in soft tannins, juicy cranberry/currant fruit and composed structure. It’s a good one to stock up on at the price and quality.

7. Black Stallion 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $28, 92 points Here’s another fantastic value from Black Stallion, which has an uncanny ability to produce Cabernets of great depth and charm that can stand against more expensive wines. This 2011 is dry, full-bodied and rich in flavors of black currants. It might even age, but there’s no reason not to enjoy it now.

8. St. Supéry 2010 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $30, 89 points Notable for balanced elegance, this Cabernet is dry and complex in blackberry, currant, cassis and plum flavors. Oak gives it a lovely jacket of smoke. It’s tough in tannins, and unlikely to age, so drink over the next 2–3 years.

9. Oberon 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $25, 85 points At two years of age, this Cabernet is ready to drink now. It’s bone dry, full-bodied and tannic, with blackberry, cherry and currant flavors.

10. Buehler 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $25, 89 points Tasted alongside far more expensive Napa Cabs, this 100% varietal performed well. It’s front loaded with blackberry jam that’s jacked up with sweet, smoky oak. With a production of 15,000 cases, it’s easy to find this smoothly tannic wine. Drink now.

11. Decoy 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $25, 85 points An easy Cabernet, delivering plenty of ripe, juicy blackberry jam and dark chocolate flavors. It finishes a little on the sweet side.

12. Stewart 2011 Slingshot Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $23, 87 points A solid Cabernet, it shows varietal fruit flavors of black currants and red cherries, with a touch of smoky oak leading to a long, spicy finish. Drink it over the next year.

13. Vinterra 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $30, 89 points Full of blackberry, black currant and oak flavors all wrapped into smooth, firm tannins, this is a pleasant Cab to drink now and for the next few years. It’s as complex as any Cabernet you can find at this price in Napa Valley.

14. Round Pound 2011 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $30, 88 points With savory black currant, blackberry jam and toast flavors wrapped into firm, complex tannins, this is a lovely Cabernet to drink now. Shows many of the qualities of far more expensive Napa Cabs, with a bit less depth.

15. Wine Spots 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $25, 86 points This is a simple Cabernet, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good one. It is, and easy to drink for its upfront cherry, blackberry and toasty oak flavors.

16. Trailhead 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $20, 89 points Quite a good Cabernet, showing the elegance and ripe fruitiness you expect from Napa, in a style for drinking now. Drily tannic, it shows classic blackberry and blueberry flavors.

17. Aquinas 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $20, 86 points With ripe, jammy blackberry and plum flavors, gently touched with smoky oak, this is a nice Cab for drinking now. Smooth and silky, the tannins will work well against grilled beef.

18. Ca’ Momi 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley), $25, 85 points Soft, fruity and tannic, this has jammy blackberry, blueberry and currant flavors. It’s ripe and tasty, but rustic, with some less-than-ripe mint flavors and edgy tannins.

19. Cameron Hughes 2011 Lot 385 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $25, 86 points Here’s a nice Cabernet with some extra features of elegance. It’s not for the cellar, but shows polished blackberry, currant and mocha flavors, wrapped into pretty strong, dry tannins. Give it an hour in the decanter and drink now.

20. Beaulieu Vineyard 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $23, 87 points Beaulieu does what it’s done so well for so long, producing a Cabernet that reflects real Napa character, at a good price. The wine is dry and fancy, with an elegant structure of acids and tannins housing classic black currant, herb and cedar flavors. With production of 43,000 cases, it’s easy to find.

21. Ministry of the Vinterior 2012 The Messenger Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $25, 87 points Very ripe and forward Cabernet, with jammy blackberry and cherry, spice and earthy flavors, as well as lots of sweet, toasty oak. It’s satisfying to drink now.

22. Magness 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $23, 88 points This is your everyday Cab, dry and tannic, but with rich, ripe black currant and cassis flavors that lead to the long finish. Drink now, but you’ll want to decant it for a few hours.

23. RouteStock Cellars 2012 Route 29 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $22, 89 points Made by former Chandon and Louis Martini winemaker Wayne Donaldson, this well-constructed Cab offers herbal blackberry and dark raspberry fruit around a core of soft tannins. It has a touch of grip to the finish, which is accented in richly roasted coffee. The addition of 18% Merlot helps soften the overall picture.

24. Avalon 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $20, 85 points Soft and round, this 80% Cabernet Sauvignon also has 16% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc and was given 16 months of oak aging. Flavors lean toward red berry and cedar.

25. Courtney Benham 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $25, 86 points Grippy and surrounded in a thick, leathery texture and aroma, it holds bright cranberry tones underneath the thickness, making this a palatable Cabernet.

26. First Press 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $23, 86 points Here’s your basic Napa Cab. It’s ripe in blackberries, currants and cassis liqueur, with a chocolatey, spicy finish. Not one for aging, but fine for drinking now.

27. Nitty Gritty 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $30, 87 points Lots of Cabernet pleasure in this dry, full bodied wine. Firm tannins frame flavors of blackberries and cherries, with an herbal edge. Showing class and elegance, it’s a good wine to drink now.

28. Joseph Carr 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa County); $20, 87 points There’s lots of rich, ripe blackberry and cherry jam, dark chocolate and cassis liqueur flavor in this dry, stylish Cabernet. While it’s a little on the direct side, and is not an ager, it’s a fine value, showing real Napa sophistication.

29. Kirkland Signature 2007 Signature Series Mountain Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $18, 89 points Great price for this rich wine. It shows the density and concentration of mountain fruit, and also the tannins, with bone-dry flavors of blackberries and currants as well as hints of licorice and Canadian bacon. Good now with a few hours of decanting, and should develop in the bottle through 2013 or so. 

30. Irony 2011 Small Lot Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $15, 85 points Irony makes good, drinkable, affordable wines and makes no apologies for them. Nor should they. This is a fruity, rich Cabernet, deep in blackberries, currants and chocolate, and meant for enjoying now. A great example of how California does inexpensive with effortless ease.

An Alternative Guide to Napa


Published on January 22, 2015
Topics: Cabernet SauvignonNapa ValleyRatings & Reviews