Cabernet Sauvignon holds the title as the king of red wines, partly because of its bold structure, and partly due to the variety's adaptability—it does well in many different environments. In the U.S., it arguably reaches its zenith in California's Napa Valley. But as this tasting proved, Washingon is making inroads, with one Yakima wine cracking the top three. Here are the results of a California versus Washington Cab throwdown:
2015 JB Neufeld Cabernet Sauvignon, $36
From Gilbert Cellar's winemaker Justin Neufeld, this Yakima Valley red is a blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon and 13% Cabernet Franc. The nose is a sumptuous mix of ripe cherry and coffee liqueur. It's silky smooth in the mouth, with a dark core of cherry and berry fruit, and velvety tannins that add grip to the finish.
2015 Oakville Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, $50
Napa Valley's Oakville Winery, founded in 1877, was just the ninth winery bonded in California. This 100% Pelissa vineyard Cabernet opens with floral violet, plum and cherry aromas. An impeccably balanced wine, its supple, ripe red fruit flavors are backed by soft tannins and bright acidity, with just the right kiss of sweet oak coloring the lingering finish.
2014 Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon, $40
Without a doubt, David Ramey is one of Califonia's best winemakers. A Bordeaux-style blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, rounded out by Merlot, Malbec and Petite Verdot, this Napa red offers notes of cocoa, earth and anise, fronting dark cherry aromas. The palate is a creamy combo of red fruit flavors, along with touches of leather, licorice, tobacco and spice.