With the onset of warm weather, we have plenty of recommendations for light-bodied wines. But just because it’s the start of grilling season doesn’t mean you need to wait until fall or winter to enjoy bold red wines again. Full-bodied and tannin-packed reds not only please the pickiest of palates, but they also pair perfectly with the rich flavors of barbecue and grilled meat synonymous with the season.
Here are some recently reviewed top picks for prime Cabernet Sauvignon enjoyment. From Bordeaux to Napa and beyond, these pours are timeless and will knock your socks off no matter what season it is.
Château Ducru Beaucaillou 2016 Saint-Julien; $210, 98 points. This wine conveys density but its richness is sublimated by the complex structure and beautiful ripe fruit. Its power comes from the structure as much as the fruit, promising a wine with an immensely long life ahead of it. Drink from 2025. K&L Wine Merchants. Cellar Selection. —Roger Voss
Austin Hope 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles); $50, 97 points. Vintner Austin Hope, whose family is intertwined in the rise of Paso Robles, spent years working to release a wine of this caliber. Dark and thick in the glass, aromas of black currant and blueberry meet with roasted coffee, chocolate syrup and baked plum on the wondrous nose. The palate is soft and extremely expressive, with blueberry, black pepper, firm midpalate tannins and a finish that’s redolent of cappuccino candies. —Matt Kettmann
Corison 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (St. Helena); $95, 97 points. This understated, elegant study in the variety opens in beguiling aromas of floral rose before opening into a finely made, structured and gracefully constructed wine that’s fully in balance. Leather, black cherry and dark chocolate highlight a midpalate of finely polished, tamed tannin and integrated oak. This is delightfully enjoyable now, but can stand up to aging; enjoy best 2020–2030. Cellar Selection. —Virginie Boone
Larkmead 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $135, 97 points. With a tiny 3% addition of Cabernet Franc, this wine is defined by aromas of violet and crushed rock. Oak, clove and graphite dot a landscape of bold structure on the palate, with bright acidity balancing the concentration and grip. Enjoy 2025–2030. Cellar Selection. —V.B.
Lail 2016 Blueprint Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $80, 96 points. This is a stunningly beautiful wine at this price point, age-worthy and complex, it will stay with you long after it’s gone. Opening in cedar, clove and cinnamon, it follows with a dusting of cocoa powder and toasted oak, before it offers a lingering thread of mineral in the form of crushed rock, violet, red and black currant. Structured as it goes, it finishes soft and silky. This is a wine for the cellar as well. Editors’ Choice. —V.B.
Quilceda Creek 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley); $200, 96 points. This hails from Champoux, Lake Wallula, Palengat and Wallula Gap Vineyards. The aromas draw you into the glass, evoking anise, blackberry, black raspberry, graphite and exotic spices. The flavors show intense depth, richness and hedonism, and the finish seems endless. Best from 2029–2036. Cellar Selection. —Sean Sullivan
Alpha Omega 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley); $102, 95 points. This wine is pretty, floral and compact in red fruit, the texture soft and billowy on the palate. Rich and full bodied, it has additional complexity from small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Integrated beautifully, it shows balance and power in equal measure. —V.B.
Daou 2016 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles); $56, 94 points. Inky in the glass, this rich and structured bottling offers a plump black-currant aroma, along with pinches of pepper and tightly woven oak. The palate lands softly and then the tannins rise up, offering savory flavors of charred beef, dark chocolate and black cherry. Drink 2020–2036. Cellar Selection. —M.K.
Anthonij Rupert 2012 Vinified and Bottled on Lormarins Cabernet Sauvignon (Franschhoek); $80, 94 points. This suave, seductive wine opens with forward aromas of black currant, blackberry and mentholated plum that are hit by green, earthy tones of tobacco leaf, licorice root and flower stem. The palate is full and lush, with rich and opulent dark-fruit flavors that are framed by bold, structuring tannins and lifted by ample acidity, as well as pronounced oak and licorice spice tones. It’s harmonious and balanced, with all the components strong and upfront. A complete and delicious wine now, enjoy through 2026. Terlato Wines International. Editors’ Choice. —Lauren Buzzeo
Leeuwin Estate 2013 Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon (Margaret River); $60, 93 points. This wine is elegant and finessed, with aromas of bright red current, cedar, smoke, pencil lead, rose, bay leaf and baking spices. The medium-bodied palate offers tobacco and red berry flavors ensconced in ultrafine, leathery tannins. There’s oak influence, but it is well integrated with the fruit. Drink now–2028. Old Bridge Cellars. Editors’ Choice. —Christina Pickard