A blind tasting of California Cabernet Sauvignon, including some of the best-sellers in the USA

This was a chance to taste 8 Cabernet Sauvignon wines blind, which is always fun. Below are my notes and scores not edited after I knew the identity of the wines. It’s very useful to do this exercise from time to time. Some of these wines are top sellers in the USA and they aren’t very nice.

Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 Sonoma County, California
14.5% alcohol. 80% French oak, 20% American (30% new oak overall). Lovely, ripe, sweet blackcurrant and cherry fruit with some spicy oak in the mix. Nice balance here between the sweet fruit and the tannins, with the oak blending in well. Ripe but balanced, finishing slightly sweet. A real crowd-pleaser: very stylish. 90/100 ($31)

Hess Allomi Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 Napa Valley, California
14.5% alcohol. American oak, 27% new. This is sweetly fruited and quite focused with bold, ripe blackcurrant fruit and some sweet strawberry. Quite a bit of spicy oak here, with some warmth (high-ish alcohol?) on the palate. Dark and sweet and spicy. Pretty ripe. 88/100 ($35)

Faust Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 Napa Valley, California
14.9% alcohol. French oak, 30% new. Nice texture and concentration here with some alcoholic warmth as well as sweet, ripe berry fruits. Nice density on the palate. Very modern, polished and approachable. It’s a bit over-ripe but it tastes luxurious. 90/100 ($55)

Stag’s Leap Cellars Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 Napa Valley, California
14.8% alcohol, 50% new oak. Fresh with some nice green hints on the nose as well as polished blackcurrant fruit. Ripe and supple with lovely fruit, a bit of spice and some freshness. It’s a modern, fruit-forward style with lots of appeal. I like the aromatics here. 92/100 ($90)

Stonestreet Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 Alexander Valley, California
14.3% alcohol. 35% new oak. Very stylish with a hint of mint as well as beautifully balanced blackcurrant and cherry fruit. Lovely fruit character with brightness and balance. Has a supple character: lovely freshness. Tastes a little Australian, in a good way. 93/100 ($85)

Justin Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 Paso Robles, California
15% alcohol. Aged in American oak, 25% new. Ripe and expressive with some green notes as well as sweet blackcurrant fruit. It’s fruity and easy, but a bit over-ripe with jammy fruit. A crowd pleaser. Inexpensive? 86/100 ($27)

Daou Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 Paso Robles, California
14.5% alcohol, pH 3.9. French oak, 50% new. Smoky and spicy with very toasty oak characters overwhelming the fruit. Berries and blackcurrants. Lush and fruity but this is over-worked. 83/100 ($23)

Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 Paso Robles, California
15% alcohol, pH 3.88, 7.1 g/l rs. All I can taste here is ripe jammy fruit with lots of clove, cinnamon and spice from the oak products. Actually quite unpleasant. 80/100 ($65)