Vote: Your 5 favorite producers of California Cabernet

In light of all the blowback in the “most overrated” thread, I thought it might be a nice change of pace to reward great producers. Also, the hivemind here has a lot of knowledge that might be useful to put into an easily digestible form.

So - a proposal.

Open to all posters.

*Vote in this thread for your 5 favorite current producers of Cabernet Sauvignon in California. Any and all styles welcome. It’s YOUR personal favorite, not others.

*The only requirement to vote is that you RANK 1 through 5 and write at least one sentence for each producer explaining why you like the wines, to ensure that everyone who votes takes it at least semi-seriously

*Voting ends Wednesday, 8/26, at 8PM(ET)

*I’ll tally the results and generate a BerserkerRanking. Points awarded - in order of placement on each ballot - go 7-4-3-2-1, so first place votes will get a slight bonus.

If this takes, we can continue for other regions / grapes.

Open to refinements. I borrowed this system from a ranking exercise on another board and it worked remarkably well, especially the requirement to write at least one sentence explaining each vote. I’m limiting to 5 because I think a smaller list will encourage more voting, and the distinction (for me at least) between my 9th and 11th favorite producer gets pretty arbitrary. But I think everyone has a small handful of producers they really love and go back to time after time.

Good idea. I will play but I must think about it. Questions:

  1. Will you exclude Cali Cab Haters and how?
  2. Is there a minimum amount that you must have had to vote for it?
  3. Can you extend voting beyond Monday? I have some other things to do in the interim and this will take some thought to avoid forgetting someone.
  4. Do you want to define “favorite”? Sub-question: Does cost factor in or is this pure pleasure delivered assuming someone else is providing the bottle at no cost to you?

More questions?

100% Cab?
Enough Cab to be legally called cab?
Blend so long as it is mostly Cab?

Point of clarification – when you say current producers, do you mean ranking the wines that are being released by that producer now, or on the basis of that producer’s track record? Big difference between 90s Montelena and current releases … same deal for Heitz, Mondavi and many others.

David–awesome idea
I’ll ponder

  1. Nope. It should all “come out in the wash” - if someone votes all for atypical AFWE type places, there should be someone else voting for a big fruit producer.
  2. Nope. If there’s a really expensive producer and you only had 1 bottle ever and it blew your mind and you want to vote them #1, god bless. I guess you have to have tried the wines at least once. But that goes without saying.
  3. Sure. Let’s make it Wednesday, 8PM (ET).. I’ll edit the first post.
  4. Favorite is whatever you want it to be! Like MVP voting in sports, it is a subjective judgment in the eye of the voter. I’m going to change the title to “5 favorite” producers to make clear that this is totally about collecting personal favorite and doesn’t aspire to be anything more objective than that.

Wines being released today, but you can let track record enter into that in your discretion.

What if it’s made ‘just’ across the border in Nevada? Does that count?

First names to leap to my tongue…



The Mike Smith wines.

A Rafanelli

I am really really pleased to have had a chance to get to know the Rivers Marie cabs, so they will go on this list. Lovely wines.

(I might have put Diamond Creek or Peter Michael on my list, but my budget cannot keep me abreast of them well enough.)

It’s a producer ranking, rather than a per bottle ranking, so this generally shouldn’t be an issue, but I would say blend so long as it is mostly cab or thought of as a left-bank styled wine. Most expansive definition possible - goal here isn’t to disqualify on technicality but to encourage folks to be able to support the wines they like the most.

Anton- don’t forget to rank your names - higher ranked wines get more points.


Hell yeah!

“Made in Nevada” and “great cab” seem oxymoronic. So, if you got one, hit us!

If it’s a producer that also makes wine in CA, then it shouldn’t be an issue.

Alan - please note requirement to write a sentence explaining your ranking for each wine.

I’ll do a ballot as an example:

My personal top 5:

1 - Ridge. Monte Bello is great, but the wines at lower pricepoints are also terrific. The 2012 Estate Cab is amazing.

2 - Forman. I’ve yet to have a bad one.

3 - Heitz. Martha’s is great, but also a big fan of Trailside cabs.

4 - Joseph Phelps. Remarkably, I’m ranking them this high having never had Insignia, but I’ve had a bunch of their ‘regular’ Napa cabs and Backus and old Eiseles and I’ve never had a dud.

5 - Pride. I normally don’t like wines in this style, but Pride wines have always been my go-to when I want to scratch my itch for something big.

HM: Mount Eden, Stag’s Leap, Arnot-Roberts

OK, I was just blurting. I think I was all hyped up from the Last Bottle click-refresh marathon!

I will go back and order rank and 'splain in a bit.

Ridge - I like the wine
Pott - I like the wine
Mayacamas - I like the wine
Detert - I like the wine

Count. Or count not. There is no sentence.

I drink roughly two cases of Pinot for every California Cab I drink. That said, here are my Top 5 California cab producers:

1 - Tor Kenward. Portfolio of great cabs; a 2005 Cimarossa Cab really kicked off my interest in wine.

2 - Cade. Starting to get priced out on the Reserve, but really enjoy their Howell mountain. As an aside, love the tasting experience.

3 - J Davies. Have long been a fan of Schramsberg sparkling wines and J. Davies cabs continue to impress me.

4 - Myriad. Mike Smith has a great portfolio with a variety of price points.

5 - Becklyn. Yes, I know I am drinking these too young, but at $60 they punch well above their weight class.

HM - Pride, Paradigm, Barnett, Hall (Kathryn Hall, Jack’s, Ellie’s)

  1. EMH - balance, finesse, and by far the most cal cab in the cellar.
  2. Ridge - started out in the 1990s drinking the Santa Cruz Mtns, always offered great value. Way too much later discovered the Monte Bello which rivals the EMH as my favorite
  3. Togni - the 1999 blew me away. Never had a nose like that on a cal cab.
  4. Justin - only the isosceles. The wine I turn to when looking for something bigger. Retains balance despite the higher alc and riper fruit.
  5. ??? Would be Soter era Étude but not the current stuff. Expect it will be Calluna based on the Merlot based wines but haven’t popped a Cab yet. Dutch Henry and Corison could also fit but haven’t had either one more recent than the 2002 vintage.