5 Sonoma Cabernets that Rival Napa

In California, there’s no denying that Napa Valley has a pretty firm hold on the Cabernet Sauvignon market. But on the other side of the Mayacamas Mountains, Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley is keeping Napa Valley on its toes. Reviewer for Sonoma County and our Editor-in-Chief, Lisa Perrotti-Brown says, “In the years to come, I foresee areas of Sonoma giving neighboring Napa a run for its money on an even greater scale.”

For lovers of Sonoma County wines, Alexander Valley has long been known to produce high-quality Cabernet that is well worth aging. And while we highly recommend stashing these bottles away in the cellar, they can often be much more approachable in their youth—so if you want to dive in now, you certainly can. While bottles aren’t priced as high as some of Napa’s top producers (and who can complain about that?), the quality inside is downright impressive.

In Perrotti-Brown’s recent Sonoma report, published in Wine Advocate Issue 230, 16 Alexander Valley Cabernets scored 90 points or higher. Of those 16 Cabernets, we’ve selected five that we think you’ll particularly love for their seductive profiles. What’s more is that you don’t even have to spend more than $75 to enjoy these high-scoring wines, as they’re all reasonably priced between $44-75. Do keep in mind, however, that some of these wines may be wine-club exclusive... so you may have to subject yourself to a few annual shipments from these top-notch Sonoma producers—and how bad could that be?

1. 2014 Medlock Ames • Cabernet Sauvignon Kate's & B's
$75 | Cellar for 3-4 Years | Drink through 2020-2045
If you've never been to Medlock Ames, you should definitely make it happen on your next trip to Sonoma County wine country. Bell Mountain Ranch includes the vineyards from which the 2014 Kate's & B's Cabernet Sauvignon is made, and is absolutely stunning in its quiet location near the borderline of the Alexander Valley and Chalk Hill appellations. You can take a tour of the ranch and follow it up with a vertical tasting of the Kate's & B's Cabernet Sauvignon to see which vintage you like best! Perrotti-Brown says that the 2014 "is one built for the long haul."

Photo provided by Medlock Ames.

2. 2014 Ferrari-Carano • Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
$65 | Drink through 2017-2030
Ferrari-Carano has a wide range of wine styles and price points, making it an excellent place to visit when touring wine country with a group of friends. About their 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve—one of their top-tier wines—Perrotti-Brown says that it "offers great poise and expression." It's sure to be a favorite for any Cab-lover in your group, and for those looking to wet their palates with something else, there will be plenty of other options available to taste—plus picturesque views of Dry Creek Valley and a luxurious tasting room.

Photo provided by Ferrari-Carano Vineyards & Winery.

3. 2014 Francis Ford Coppola Winery • Cabernet Sauvignon Archimedes
$60 | Cellar for 2-4 Years | Drink through 2019-2041
Known to most for the famous name attached to this vineyard, Francis Ford Coppola Winery is the kind of place you can enjoy an entire day. This architecturally beautiful winery is a wine playground for adults—with plenty of tasting experiences from which to choose, a full on-site restaurant (Rustic), and even a giant pool for those sunny days, you'll want to grab a glass of the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Archimedes and savor the atmosphere all day. Don't forget to take a few bottles home with you, because Perrotti-Brown says you should "plan to drink it over the next 20+ years."

Photo provided by Francis Ford Coppola Winery.

4. 2013 Hawkes • Cabernet Sauvignon Estate
$60 | Drink through 2017-2033
Perrotti-Brown says that the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate "is evolving into a deliciously complete and harmonious wine," and with praise like that, who wouldn't want to seek out this wine? Hawkes is located in the majestic and tranquil appellation of Alexander Valley. Its close proximity to locals-favorite Jimtown Store makes it an ideal spot for a wine country picnic. Lay out a blanket or grab a picnic table next to the estate vineyards and enjoy the glorious view, while snacking on the best charcuterie from Jimtown Store and sipping on the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate.

Photo provided by Hawkes Wine.

5. 2014 Kokomo Winery • Cabernet Sauvignon Ruth's Vineyard
$44 | Drink through 2017-2026
It doesn't get any more iconic in Dry Creek Valley than Kokomo Winery. With a tasting room among the barrels and comfortable picnic grounds overlooking all of Dry Creek Valley, you'll feel you've finally arrived in heaven when you get to Kokomo. Winemaker Erik Miller sets the stage for the quintessential wine country experience. Enjoy a wine and cheese pairing and taste their their fine selection of wines. You'll find yourself walking away with a wine club membership, because the perks are just too good—including access to the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Ruth's Vineyard, which Perrotti-Brown says is a "very impressive Cabernet, for those that love more voluptuous styles!"

Kokomo Winemaker Erik Miller. Photo provided by Kokomo Winery.

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