If you’re a fan of good-quality cabernet sauvignon, but pricey Napa Valley reds are outside of your budget, put Washington state on your radar. Cabernet is the most widely planted red grape in Washington, which has excellent growing conditions for this noble variety. Partially because land is less expensive in Washington than Napa, wineries can produce more affordable wines. As a result, critics frequently give Washington cabs high scores as “best buys.” Below are two excellent examples that would go well with beef and lamb.
Wines of Substance 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Wash.
Bought • Dierbergs, 8450 Eager Road, in November for $13.99
Description • Wines of Substance is the new company owned by popular winemaker Charles Smith, known for his affordable, high-quality wines bottled with edgy, black and white labels. This 100 percent cabernet, which won scores in the 90s from several critics including Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, is his latest winner. Aged in French oak, this is a delicious full-bodied red that tastes of concentrated black currants and black cherries with hints of black pepper.
Pendulum 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Wash.
Bought • Dierbergs, 8450 Eager Road, in November for $12.99
Description • This red, which won 90 points from Wine Spectator, is another fine expression of Washington state cabernet. Pendulum is made by Precept Wine, the largest family-owned wine company in the northwest. Made from 85 percent cabernet sauvignon and 15 percent syrah, this is a fresh, full-bodied red that has layers of concentrated blackberries and plums with inviting notes of herbs and black pepper. This flavorful wine is quite smooth and ends with a long, velvety finish.