Alternative to Caymus cab?

Hi all.

First, let me start by saying that I enjoy wine, but am not a student of the drink. I don't know the fancy terms and most often tend to enjoy $10-$15 bottles of white.

That being said, I've had the occasion now, twice, to enjoy a bottle of Caymus cab that was absolutely outstanding. This particular bottle was from 2009. All I can describe it as is drinking liquid gold - tasty and smooth, my perfect combo. In fact, this was on Thanksgiving and I can't stop thinking about how good it was.

Is there anything you can suggest that may be in the $20-$25/bottle range that would be remotely similar?

Thanks!
Original Post
There are not a lot of California Cabs out there of this quality which can be obtained for $20-25. The quality starts to suffer.

I will say that in a good vintage, The Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is pretty close. Generally obtainable for $25+, and in a good year can be quite good. However, overall it is made in a similar style each year.

Now that you know that $65-70 will get you something like Caymus, you are probably wondering what $100 might get you?
quote:
Originally posted by Wine doc:
Now that you know that $65-70 will get you something like Caymus, you are probably wondering what $100 might get you?

Big Grin

I will also add this. People will suggest a number of wines in the $20-$25 range. You go out and buy 1 or 2 of them and find that you don't really like it. At this point, you've already spent $50. Another $10-$15 would have gotten you a bottle that you know you'll like.
That leads to the value of attending tastings when offered at retailers.
I was poured a Caravan, second label of Darioush, at a local tasting. Not under $25, but fits the smooth rich profile the OP is looking for. I'm not a fan of the style, but all tastings give reference points.

Better yet, join a group that does blind tastings. With the right group and intelligent selection, you can sort out preferences quickly, independent of price and name recognition.
I'm going to add to the bandwagon slightly. There really isn't anything in the $20-$25 range you are likely to enjoy as much. HOWEVER, at $40-$45 you can find a recent vintage of Chappellet Signature. That you might enjoy more than the Caymus. Lewelling can be a fun, easy CA Cab when young. Those should be $45-$50.

In your price range I seem to recall people enjoying Chateau Ste Michelle Cabernet Canoe Ridge, but its been a while. Also, Sequoia Grove Cabernet can be quite pleasant. But neither of these are going to be at the quality you are looking for.
These guys nailed it. $20-25 is a tough price point for quality domestic cabs; not impossible, just tough.

Here's a few that are decent:

- Beringer Knights Valley (Especially '10)

- Justin Cab

- Arrowood Cab

- Freemark Abbey Cab

* Note that these won't touch Caymus in terms of quality.

When & if your wine hobby drifts to Spain, Italy, or the Southern Rhone, I find a ton of better QPR wines in the $20-30 range. In the mean time, get out to some local tastings if they're available.

Cheers, & welcome.
Thanks for all of the thoughts and comments.

Good idea on the the local tastings. Like I said, I don't know alot of wine, and less about reds, so most of the time I'm at the mercy of whatever we end up ordering. I did come across a Tikal Malbec and I really enjoyed, so I've managed to pick that up once or twice and have enjoyed it. But it wasn't the Caymus.

I can't imagine it gets better, but yeah, I guess I'm curious to see what $100 gets you now.

At $75 a bottle, this isn't something I can purchase a whole lot. Mostly maybe for Christmas and other special occasions. And I don't think I'm to the point yet where I can feel 100% comfortable to go spend $75 and then turn around and drink it. But maybe that comes with time and experience.
quote:
When & if your wine hobby drifts to Spain, Italy, or the Southern Rhone, I find a ton of better QPR wines in the $20-30 range. In the mean time, get out to some local tastings if their they're available.


(Sorry, pet peeve Wink .)

Oh, absolutely true. heckofagator, my comment, and those of the others' is about the Cabernet grape from CA or else in that style (The Chateau Ste Michelle I mentioned is from Washington State).

Frankly, I've had several $30 Cru Beaujolais that I think are wholly better wines, in every way, than Caymus. But, that is a very very different style of wine.
quote:
At $75 a bottle, this isn't something I can purchase a whole lot...


heeckofagator,

Just for clarification of my earlier posts. I don't think you are actually looking at $75/bottle to get quality or taste profile similar to Caymus in CA / CA-style Cabernet. But depending upon what is available to you, you are almost certainly looking at about $45 minimum and that is only if you can find the right wine at the right price. Frown
Well, you've got me interested...

I'm not stuck on the Cab - I only said that cause I knew that's what the Caymus was. In fact, I'm not sure I could tell the differences between all of them. With time, I suppose....

But yeah, any other (fairly easy to obtain) $20-$30 bottles from different regions? I'm all ears.
$45 is better than $75, all else being equal Wink

Any specific recommendations?

quote:
Originally posted by winetarelli:

heeckofagator,

Just for clarification of my earlier posts. I don't think you are actually looking at $75/bottle to get quality or taste profile similar to Caymus in CA / CA-style Cabernet. But depending upon what is available to you, you are almost certainly looking at about $45 minimum and that is only if you can find the right wine at the right price. Frown
quote:
Originally posted by winetarelli:
quote:
When & if your wine hobby drifts to Spain, Italy, or the Southern Rhone, I find a ton of better QPR wines in the $20-30 range. In the mean time, get out to some local tastings if their they're available.


(Sorry, pet peeve Wink .)



What are you talking about?! Devilish
I'd second the Mondavi for being a consistently good Napa cab for 30 bucks.

Usually in that price range I don't look to Napa. There's some excellent ones you might enjoy from Chile though, which is my fallback for great value Cabs. Something like Concha Y Toro's Marques de Casa Concha (a favorite of mine for 18 or 20 dollars) and the Montes Alpha.

And if you liked that Malbec try the Tilia Malbec and Cabernet. Only about 10 bucks and both excellent from Argentina.
I just looked up the Beringer Knights and saw this at Total Wine.

"Wine Advocate - Knights Valley, CA- "Firm tannins support an expressive core of dark red fruit, grilled herbs, asphalt and savory herbs, all of which come to life in a vibrant Cabernet Sauvignon long on personality and character. This is a serious wine for the money."

ASPALT?!??!?!? Is that an acquired taste? Big Grin
quote:
Originally posted by DoubleD:
If your wine budget is only $60 per month, I'd rather drink one bottle per month versus drinking a $15 bottle each week.


I'm the opposite. I'd rather a nice 15 - 20 dollar bottle once a week than a 60 dollar bottle if that was my budget. I honestly don't find a huge difference in a good 90-91pt/$20 dollar cab vs a 92-93/60 dollar bottle. Not like one is being choked down and the other is mind blowing. Plus the more often one drinks the more different wines you can try (obviously) and see what you like if you're new to the sport. If you're talking say an $80 - $100+ bottle that's usually where I start finding something special that would be worth missing out on a very nice weekly bottle for under 20 bucks. But I'd much rather a 50 dollar bottle once a week than a 7 dollar bottle every day Ack !

But if you're checking out the Beringer heckofagator try the Napa bottling too. More ripe and bold than the KV. And if you can find the Mondavi Oakville on sale for 40 bucks or so that's a great one to grab also for about half what you can usually grab a Caymus for.
quote:
Originally posted by heckofagator:
$45 is better than $75, all else being equal Wink

Any specific recommendations?

Chappellet Signature (easy #1)
Lewelling (for the "lush" factor you may have been describing)


quote:
Originally posted by Icewino:
I honestly don't find a huge difference in a good 90-91pt/$20 dollar cab vs a 92-93/60 dollar bottle. Not like one is being choked down and the other is mind blowing.


I get what you are saying but I never found CA Cab to be particularly pleasurable at the lower levels, and certainly won't provide the same experience Caymus did. Personally, if I want to drink something from the U.S., I get far more pleasure out of a $9/750ml Allagash Grand Cru or Trippel than I do out of any $20 CA Cabs.
quote:
Originally posted by winetarelli:
quote:
Originally posted by heckofagator:
$45 is better than $75, all else being equal Wink

Any specific recommendations?

Chappellet Signature (easy #1)
Lewelling (for the "lush" factor you may have been describing)


quote:
Originally posted by Icewino:
I honestly don't find a huge difference in a good 90-91pt/$20 dollar cab vs a 92-93/60 dollar bottle. Not like one is being choked down and the other is mind blowing.


I get what you are saying but I never found CA Cab to be particularly pleasurable at the lower levels, and certainly won't provide the same experience Caymus did. Personally, if I want to drink something from the U.S., I get far more pleasure out of a $9/750ml Allagash Grand Cru or Trippel than I do out of any $20 CA Cabs.


Agreed if you're limiting it to lower price points Cali cabs are not the way to go for everyday drinkers. Chile is where I head for low priced cabs.

As for Allagash, the Black is pretty great too and the FV 13 if you can find it and like sour beers. Not something id drink all the time but refreshingly different and very good.
More times than not, I've been disappointed with current vintages of sub $25 Napa cabs and now pretty much avoid that category. They do seem to improve a bit with age, but I don't have the extra cellar space to allocate to them. If you are looking for a Caymus substitute at the $25 price range you will probably be disappointed too. I second the votes for Chappellet Signature and Mondavi Oakville, but they probably won't be a pop-n-pour performers like Caymus. In a good year you could also add Round Pond Estate, but all these are around $40-$45 per bottle. Maybe try something from Washington (Novelty Hill and Seven Hills come to mind). Good luck.
quote:
Originally posted by heckofagator:
I just looked up the Beringer Knights and saw this at Total Wine.

"Wine Advocate - Knights Valley, CA- "Firm tannins support an expressive core of dark red fruit, grilled herbs, asphalt and savory herbs, all of which come to life in a vibrant Cabernet Sauvignon long on personality and character. This is a serious wine for the money."

ASPALT?!??!?!? Is that an acquired taste? Big Grin


Have you seen Somm?!

Common descriptors of taste & smell throughout the film include "inflatable pool toy, grandma's closet, and urine..."
+1 Shane Spit lest we forget the "freshly cut garden hose"

All in all my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the film.

Gator. Do you have any "local" wine shops (not a bev mo for example) in your area? We have many and one of my favs offers weekly tastings of many different varietals. For a buck! Can't beat that kind of exposure. A simple and very effective way to broaden your palate, and meet fellow enthusiasts as

Maybe give Louis Martini a try, Hidden Ridge, Volker Eisele (a fav), Wm Harrison, and some of the Bordeaux style blends such as BV Tapestry. Currently 30 bucks @ Costco.

Most of all, keep trying new things. Cheers
quote:
Originally posted by nevada slim:
More times than not, I've been disappointed with current vintages of sub $25 Napa cabs and now pretty much avoid that category... If you are looking for a Caymus substitute at the $25 price range you will probably be disappointed too. I second the votes for Chappellet Signature and Mondavi Oakville, but they probably won't be a pop-n-pour performers like Caymus... but all these are around $40-$45 per bottle.

Good point about the Chappellet Signature I recommended not being pop-and-pour. Definitely requires decanting or else open it many many hours before drinking and just leave the bottle open. (The Lewelling I reccomended specifically for its lush, pop-and-pour characteristic.)
My go-to recommendations for Cabs in the $25 and under category are from Washington -- Columbia Crest, Chateau Ste. Michelle and Milbrandt. As mentioned, you're not going to get Caymus quality with these, but they are usually solid wines. A quick search of WS database shows the 2009 and 2010 Columbia Crest H3 Cabernets were rated 90 pts with a list price of $15, and 3 of their single vineyard reserve Cabernets have a list price of $30 and were rated either 91 or 92 pts. Chateau Ste. Michelle single vineyard Cabernets (as well as their Syrahs and Merlots) are usually solid and in the $15-$30 range. I don't recall if I've had a Milbrandt Cabernet (know I've had the Syrah, which was nice for the price), but their 2009 and 2010 Traditions bottlings both received 90 pts with a list price of $15. Their next step up is the Estates at about $25 I think

For California, I typically recommend Kendall Jackson (Grand Reserve or Grand Estates or something like that) as it is readily available. But, I believe that is Sonoma. For Napa, I've heard some good things about Buehler (though been pretty mixed) and Louis Martini. I've had some good luck with Charles Krug in the past. And recently, I opened up a 2007 Gallo Family Barelli Creek Vineyard (not Napa) that I purchased for $30 and I thought it was a great QPR. Side note on that wine -- WS rated it 83 pts, while I think WA rated it 92.
Gang, again, thanks for the continued comments and recommendations. I'm going to go thru this and make a list of all that you've mentioned. If anyone has any further Washington recommendations, please feel free to list your favorites. Again, I'm not stuck on the cabs at all, I had just mentioned that 'cause the Caymus was a cab.

We have a Total Wine around here and the std ABC Liquor. I'm sure there's other places I'm just not sure about, but I'm def interested in some tastings. I'll have to call around.
There have been quite a few good suggestions on this thread, one of the things I can recommend is do lots of wine tastings, In our area about once and month or so one of the local wine bars or liquor stores offer wine tastings with several distributor reps. It's a great way to try several different wines and see what you like.
quote:


When & if your wine hobby drifts to Spain, Italy, or the Southern Rhone, I find a ton of better QPR wines in the $20-30 range. In the mean time, get out to some local tastings if they're available.

Cheers, & welcome.


What he said directly above. I have found my daily reds primarily from Italy at a fraction of the cost of a decent Cab.
quote:
Originally posted by nevada slim:
Are there really any Italian wines that could be considered an alternative to Caymus CS, or has the thread just turned to daily drinkers?


Casanova di Neri Pietradonice?? Just a guess. Never had it unfortunately.
heck;
Lots of good choices in the previous posts. Nothing wrong with being budget-minded, and here's a few that I've had recently that should fit your bill for smooth, surprisingly complex wines:

    2010 Leese-Fitch Cabernet Sauvignon - $10-15 retail just about anywhere; drinks more like a $40+ cab.
    2010 Bridlewood Blend 175 - $14-17 retail, cab-based blend from the Santa Ynez/Central Coast region.
    2011 Orin Swift Abstract - $22-27 retail, a Cali take on GSM blends that is really very nice.


None of these should be too hard to find. Keep looking, there are a ton of bargain-priced wines out there that are real pleasers. Just takes patience - and a lot of empirical testing. Wink
Went to Total Wine today and picked up these:

Chappellet Signature Cab 2011
Avenel Cellars Napa Cab 2010
Dom des Versauds Morgon 2011

I basically wrote down some recommendations from here and showed it to the guy and asked for some help. He said the Chappellet was easily the best they had in the store under $60. I think I'm going to save that for Christmas.

I forget the story on the Avenel and the Dom was his recommendation when I said I'd like to try the Ste Michelle. Will try to still pick some of that up, but I'm curious about his recommendation, too.

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