It’s the battle of the mid-range cabernets. And the winner is…Canoe Ridge Horse Heaven Hills Reserve

Ah yes, cabernet sauvignon!  It’s a wine of full body, strong tannins, and crazy price swings.  For a bottle of cab, you can pay $4  (at Trader Joe’s ) or close to $2800.  No joke!  The legendary California cabernet, Screaming Eagle, is available at a Portland-area wine shop for $2,780.  (Contact me and I’ll tell you where you can buy it, then I’ll contact you to make sure I’m by your side when you pop that cork.)

We’re homing in on the best cabernet we can find in the $15-$20 range.  It’s not an easy assignment.  Most of the sub-$20 cabs we taste are either boring…nothing going on in the flavor palette…or “hot”…meaning there’s too much alcohol and the wine is out of balance.

We have found a couple of cabs that meet our requirements:  Coppola’s 2014 “Director’s” from Sonoma County and the Canoe Ridge 2014 Reserve from Eastern Washington

We’ll admit our bias toward Coppola.  Like Coppola’s movies, Coppola’s wines are consistent across the board.  This cabernet is no exception.  It’s a touch on the light side, perhaps due to the addition of Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.  Nonetheless, it’s a pleasant red, especially for around $18.
But we suggest spending a couple of dollars more and stepping up to the 2014 Canoe Ridge Reserve.  Compared to the Coppola, it has more of everything.  More body, more character and, basically, more flavor.  No blending going on here.  It’s 100% cabernet and it shows, exhibiting a richness usually not found on the $20 cab shelf.
Heads up!  There’s another Canoe Ridge red, The Expedition, with a very similar label.  It’s a merlot-based red blend.  So pay attention to the label and make sure you grab the Canoe Ridge Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

As of April 16, we found Canoe Ridge 2014 Reserve Cabernet at:
Fred Meyer  Hollywood         $19.49    Fred Meyer  Hawthorne        $19.49

QFC  NE 56th & Burnside     $19.99    Safeway NE 69th & Sandy    $21.99

Safeway  SE Hawthorne       $21.99


Fred Meyer  Stadium            $19.49     Fred Meyer Walker Road     $19.49

Fred Meyer  Beaverton        $19.49      Fred Meyer Raleigh Hills     $19.49

Bale’s Thriftway Cornell Rd. $19.99     QFC  Barnes & Miller Rd.    $19.99

Safeway  NW Lovejoy           $21.99     Safeway Cornell Rd.           $21.99


Fred Meyer SW Barbur Blvd.   $19.49   Fred Meyer Tualatin          $19.49

Safeway     SW Barbur Blvd.    $21.99   Safeway Lake Oswego    $21.99