Best cabernet, Bordeaux-style, and red wines for the holidays in 2023

Sunday, December 17th, 2023

best cabernet, Bordeux-style wine for 2023 holidays

–Cabernet sauvignon wines are big, bold, tannic wines that pair perfectly with holiday meals centered around meats like prime rib, roast beef, pork tenderloin, lamb, and venison. Lucky for us, SLO County is producing some outstanding cabernets and Bordeaux-style blends.

Here is a selection of local wines we recommend for your upcoming holiday meals. We received so many tasty wines that we created separate lists for recommendations. See more recommendations on zinfandels, pinot noirs, Rhone-style reds, whites, rosés, and sparkling wines below this list.

Top local red wine recommendations

915 Lincoln 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon – $50
Well balanced and bright dark red fruit. A nice complex finish.

915 Lincoln 2021 Malbec – $45
Full body with a great nose and color. Well rounded and balanced with bright red fruit.

Al Lago 2019 Sonata – $65
This medium cab-based blend is ruby-purple with streaks of flinty reduction that compliment its core of black fruit. The full-bodied palate is fresh and chalky with crunchy fruits and a long, pleasing, herbal finish. It earned 94 points from Wine Advocate.

Ancient Peaks 2020 Pearl Cabernet Sauvignon – $72
This wine has aromas of ripe blackberry, vanilla, and graphite with hints of black olive, and earthy loam. A plush, mouth filling texture delivers layered flavors of plum, cranberry, cherry, and blueberry. suggestions of toasted oak, caramel, and cola bring added complexity to a firm, structured finish.

AronHills 2020 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – $64
best cabernet sauvignon for the 2023 holidayAromas of black cherry telegraph rich, dark flavors on the palate. Natural acidity adds length and structure, while notes of bing cherry and black pepper emerge on the finish.

Austin Hope 2021 Cellar Select Cabernet Franc – $90
This medium-bodied wine has rich, savory and spicy aromas carried through to the palate where flavors of bell pepper, raspberry and pencil shavings mingle with red fruit to balance this complex wine. On the finish, fine tannins integrate beautifully leaving a luscious long finish.

Booker 2021 My Favorite Neighbor Cabernet Sauvignon – $55
This cabernet-based blend fills the glass with a culmination of black cherry, cassis and warm spice. A full-bodied palate displays blackberry and plum with underlying notes of tobacco. An additional layer of red fruit and a pop of acidity, combined with well-integrated tannins and a beautifully crafted structure, leave nothing to be desired.

Brecon Estate 2021 Malbec – $77
The malbec fruit brings a lovely acid balance and certain softness of texture, reinforced with a solid tannat backbone. All of this overlain with fine French oak that imparts cinnamon/nutmeg overtones with hints of vanilla candies.

Castoro Cellars 2021 Quaranta  – $45
This is a dark violet wine with aromas rich in berry and spiciness. The palate has black pepper, currant, and ripe plums with nice toastiness and leather to finish. It’s a blend of cab, zin, and petite sirah. It was one of our favorites.

Crush Vineyard 2020 Tantalize Estate Tannat – $58
best cabernet, Bordeaux-style wine for 2023 holidaysThis wine begins with big aromatics of black currants, plum and dark cherry, the nose then leads into the savory components of this varietal – anise, mushroom, tobacco, and cedar. The palate is full and complex. Full-bodied with a texture from beefy yet soft tannins.

Dracaena Wines 2021 Cinnabari – $48
This cabernet blend is lucious on the palate. The structure, mainly dictated by the cabernet, brings beautiful black fruit aromatics. Merlot enhances mocha flavors. A lighter bodied wine, but full of flavors. Pairs well with sirloin steak, pulled pork, or butternut squash.

Eberle 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon – $55
This wine is well-balanced. Aromas and flavors of black cherry, cassis, tobacco leaf, green peppercorns, and cocoa, supported by firm tannins, a juicy acidity, with a lingering finish. Pairs well with roasted lamb shank or chocolate truffles. It was one of our favorites.

Ecluse 2021 Ensemble – $56
This wine is a blend of 30% merlot, 20% cabernet sauvignon, 20% cabernet Franc, 15% malbec, 15% petit verdot. It begins with a rich purple color. Aromas of dark fruit, vanilla, and a hint of jasmine introduce this complex wine. Aromas of chocolate covered cherries, and a touch of buttery oak continues on the palate with red currants, caramel corn, baking spice, and notes of cola on the lasting finish.

End of the Day Wines 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon – $32
Fragrance of dark fruit with roasted coffee. A velvety palate that unfolds with the richness of black cherry and semi-sweet chocolate, followed by currant. Pairs well with filet mignon.

Graveyard Vineyard 2021 Psycho Sirah – $45
This 100% petite sirah has a fresh earthy scent with hints of saffron & red currant. Each sip has a smooth texture with a sweet, fruity taste. Aged in an oak barrel for 20 months.

Graveyard Vineyard 2020 Petite Verdot – $42
Aged 20 months in an oak barrels, this wine will delight from start to finish. Floral notes on the nose. Full mouth flavors of black cherry, plum and cedar. Finally a vibrant finish full of dark fruit flavors. Serve with butternut squash ravioli or duck with raspberry sauce.

Halter Ranch 2020 Ancestor – $85
best cabernet, Bordeaux-style wine for 2023 holidaysThis blend of cab, malbec, and petit verdot features aromas of blueberries, cassis, raspberry, and a touch of mocha from the new french oak. The entry is soft, rich, and mouth-coating with flavors of red currant and olallieberry. The juicy mid palate segues into a structured finish with integrated tannins. Pair with roasted meats, reduction sauces, osso bucco, and dark chocolate. It earned a double gold medal at the Orange County Fair International Wine Competition.

Hard Working Wines 2022 Bull By The Horns Cabernet Sauvignon – $25
Notes of bing cherry, black currant, red licorice, blond roast coffee, cloves, sassafras, and grilled herbs. Super fine-grained tannins that glide across the palate.

Harmony Cellars 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon – $32
This wine offers intense aromas of cherry and licorice complemented by notes of warm, toasty oak. The palate is flooded with flavors of cherry, cassis, and cola. The medium rich body, velvety tannins, and well-balanced acidity lead to a long, savory finish. Pairs well with steak, roasted meats, stews, or portabella mushrooms.

Kula Vineyards 2021 Ken’s Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – $40
Beautiful aromas of cherry and vanilla. This full-bodied wine showcases black currant, blackberry, and chocolate with its intense color.

Le Vigne 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon – $51
The perfume of saddle leather and dark chocolate is present on the nose with scents of cinnamon, cherry pepper, and black plum while the palate is delighted by jammy black currant and blackberry spotlighting silky smooth sophisticated tannins, cola, and cocoa nib.

Le Vigne 2019 Nikiara – $54
best cabernet, Bordeaux-style wine for 2023 holidaysOn the nose hints of black currant and blueberry lead into cedar, cardamom, and turmeric aromas. This cabernet-based blend has a full-bodied mouthfeel with rich fruit notes of fresh black cherry and plum that finish with pistachio and baking spice flavors.

LXV 2021 The Secret – $78
The color is a luxurious, inky-purple. On the nose is a bouquet of blackberries, cassis, dark chocolate, leather, and hints of vanilla. The palate has layers of black currants, ripe plums, espresso, velvety tannins, and a long, lingering finish of exquisite richness.

LXV 2021 The Tempo – $78
The color is a vibrant, medium- bodied red hue. On the nose are ripe blackberries, red cherries, cedar, tobacco, and a touch of floral elegance. It has a balanced palate with luscious blackberries, juicy cherries, hints of plum, medium tannins, and a smooth, satisfying finish.

Mac and Billy 2022 Cabernet Sauvignon – $35
Blackberry, chocolate-raspberry, espresso roast coffee, au jus, cardamom, cigar box, new leather, dense, youthful tannin, persistent finish.

Midnight Cellars 2020 Mare Nectaris – $68
best cabernet, Bordeaux-style wine for 2023 holidaysThis wine is rosewood in color. The nose is classic of a bordeaux with aromas of violet, smoke, leather, black fruit, and rich earth. A 58% cabernet blend with complex flavors of ripe plum, baking spices, clove and black cherry; it has a rich, full mouth feel and a heavenly finish. This wine pairs well with beef, lamb or pork loin. It earned 90 points from Wine Enthusiast.

Midnight Cellars 2019 Tannat – $58
The color is an incredibly dark garnet. The nose is full of ripe plum, cherry, and earth. The mouthfeel is full with flavors of black fruit, dark chocolate, balanced earth, and leather. Vanilla oak influences and integrates beautifully leading into an amazingly long finish.

Midnight Cellars 2019 Malbec – $52
Sweet kisses of oak weave through dark, jammy fruits on the nose of this bottling. The palate is luxurious, with creamy tannins providing the texture, blackberry jam delivering the fruit and just enough peppercorn as spice.

Midnight Cellars 2020 Zenith Estate Cuvee – $83
This vibrant ruby red wine is a blend of 48% cabernet sauvignon, 22% merlot, 15% petit verdot, and 15% malbec. On the nose are rich notes of cassis and black plum layered with sweet toffee, spicy sandalwood, and clean mineral graphite. On the palate it tastes of blackberry, vanilla, and nutmeg with a hint of limestone and a chocolatey finish. This wine pairs with filet mignon or prime rib.

Midnight Cellars 2019 Tannat – $58
The color is an incredibly dark garnet. The nose is full of ripe plum, cherry, and earth. The mouthfeel is full with flavors of black fruit, dark chocolate, balanced earth, and leather. Vanilla oak influences and integrates beautiful leading into an amazingly long finish.

Opolo 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon – $42
best cabernet, Bordeaux-style wine for 2023 holidaysThis wine offers rich aromas of cherry, black currant, cedar, caramel, and tea. The palate is impeccably weighted with layers of blueberry, black cherry, plum, loam, toasted oak, and black olive. Sleek, chewy tannins expand into a resoundingly balanced finish. It was one of our favorites.

One Stone 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon – $20
This wine is loaded with complex aromas of plum, black olive, caramel, graphite, and earthy loam. The palate is sumptuous and integrated, offering generous flavors of black cherry, cassis, cranberry, fig, anise, and espresso. Velvety textures and flashy tannins complete the experience.

ONX 2019 Caliber – $65
The entry of the Templeton Gap cabernet is weighty and rife with cracked black pepper and anise flavor, but with a pop of grapefruit that provides some acidity. The palate is full and plush with tannin, giving hazelnut and vanilla flavor to the savory profile of the steak and prosciutto. A moderate acidity carries from the mid through the finish that allows the full tannin structure to carry to the fig and sweet molasses finish.

Oso Libre 2019 Por Vida – $75
This blend is a fusion of 68% cabernet sauvignon, 22% primitivo and 11% mourvèdre. This wine begins with a nose of red berries and eucalyptus acorns. Ripe pomegranate and cooked berries dominate the palate, set off by pepper spices. Full-bodied and bright. It was awarded 2022 “Best of Show” at the Denver International Wine Competition.

Oso Libre 2019 Quixotic – $75
This 100% cabernet wine offers aromas and flavors of dark fruit, cherry notes, and a silky smooth finish. Pairs well with filet of beef.

Paris Valley Road 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon – $51
Several swirls do well to exhibit the lavish profile of this wine. It displays notes of blackberries, black currants, and espresso with structure, style, and finesse. Appealing hints of figs, plums, and briary add nuanced layers. Limber tannins and deft acidity allow the flavors to flow, flourish, and finish well.

Paris Valley Road 2019 L’Entente- $72
best cabernet, Boprdeaux-style wine for 2023 holidaysThis garnet colored wine is fragrant with aromas of graham cracker pie crust, spice, and layers of dark fruits. It’s velvety mouthfeel delivers flavors of currants, figs, sage, anise, sweet tobacco, and cocoa. While reminiscent of its Bordeaux varietal origins it finishes with strong tannins and hints of oak from locally grown grapes. It’s a well-balanced blend of 63% cabernet, 23% merlot and 14% petit verdot with a smooth finish. This wine pairs well with beef, veal, lamb and poultry.

Peachy Canyon 2020 Para Siempre – $55
This Bordeaux-style red blend is redolent of dark plum and dark chocolate. The wine bursts with flavors of black and blue fruits, and fresh herbs.

Peachy Canyon 2020 Devine – $50
This red wine is a blend of 81% cabernet sauvignon, 12% malbec, and 7% syrah. It has aromas of berry brambles and black cherries that give way to flavors of sweet red and dark fruits with a long, silky finish.

Penman Springs Vineyard 2020 Meritage Artisan Cuvee – $40
54% cabernet sauvignon, 33% merlot and 13% petit verdot. This blend has black licorice aromas followed by a palate of blackberries with a velvety vanilla spice finish.

Penman Springs Vineyard 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon – $44
The bouquet offers hints of allspice and vanilla which leads to a lingering, silky blackberry and spice finish. Pairs well with steak or seared ahi tuna.

Penman Springs Vineyard 2019 Merlot – $26
This wine displays aromas of black cherry and cassis. The flavors of bright blackberries envelope the palate, leading to a soft, silky black cherry and vanilla finish.

Rava Wines 2018  Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – $65
This wine has rich aromas of toasted cherry and blackcurrant accented by pepper and black licorice. Notes of blackberry and dark chocolate are introduced with soft tannins. It has a full-bodied structure with a bold and lavish finish. It pairs best with red meat, but goes well with portobello mushrooms and certain cheeses. It was one of our favorites.

Red Door Ranch 2021 Big Brother Malbec – $58
best cabernet, Bordeaux-style wine for 2023 holidaysBold and dense on the nose, the wine offers with aromas of elderberry, violet, lavender and wet stone. The palate combines a pleasant minerality with black pepper and berry jam flavors.

Rockbound Cellars 2021 Allpa – $65
This blend of 65% cabernet sauvignon, 18% petit verdot, and 17% cabernet franc has complex and layered aromas of black cherry, dark plum, graphite, and sagebrush all held up with a cradle of oak. On the palate is a bold entrance, with well integrated tannins that provide a smooth texture. Notes of green peppercorn, brambly berries, and raw cacao lead to a long, pleasing finish.

Rockbound Cellars 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon – $55
This wine offers captivating aromas of cassis, violet, dark cherry, and a delicate hint of baking spices. On the palate, it offers a sanguine and mineral-driven experience, accentuated by the flavors of bing cherry. Its elegant and balanced palate lead to a long finish, characterized by a sweet fruit entrance that leaves a lasting impression.

Sculpterra 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon Bentley Ironworks – $76
This wine is medium to full bodied, smooth, and elegant on the finish, tied together with oak accents of smoke, cedar, tobacco, and coffee. Thick and substantial on the palate. There are upfront aromas of cranberry, red currant, and dark cherry centered around a lingering taste of black olive, herbs and dill, and pepper with sage.

Sea Shell Cellars 2021 Estate Cuvee – $62
This estate cuvee is like a traditional Paso Robles cabernet sauvignon, but with much more depth. It is big and weighty with moderate acidity. On the nose there are notes of cassis and red berry fruit with some vanilla, plums, cream, berries, with hints of toasty oak. The oak is stronger on the palate, like a cigar box and cedar chips, but fades to a more reductive soy tone. It has moderate acidity, and a long, savory finish similar to umami.

Sea Shell Cellars 2021 Low Tide Cabernet Sauvignon – $42
This wine boasts a rich and complex sensory profile with black currant, cracked black pepper, and spring cherries. The wine’s firm tannins provide structure and balance, while the delicate floral notes of violets add elegance and refinement.

Sea Shell Cellars 2020 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – $54
This wine has rich aromas of candied cherries, balsamic glaze, and blueberry compote. The sweet aromas are balanced out by its weighted but soft palate showing hints of bay leaf and grilled peppers.

Seven Angels Cellars 2019 Petite Sirah – $42
Deep inky hues entice the eye. Notes of blueberry and dark plum on the nose. Blackberry delights the palate. This is a bold wine with a lingering finish. It was one of our favorites.

Sextant 2019 Kamal Cabernet Sauvignon – $54
best cabernet, Bordeaux-style wine for 2023 holidaysUpfront aromas of ripe strawberry, potpourri, cedar, and lavender. A riot of dark fruits follows, with acai berry and black plum most prominent. Traces of wet granite and minerality join the fray, while bright acid provides lift throughout. The crushed-velvet tannins are well structured and give way to a long finish.

Sextant 2019 Octant Bordeaux Blend – $80
Ruby red and full bodied with medium to high tannins, this wine is a delicious medley of fruits and spice. On the nose tart aromas of raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry give way to vanilla and gingerbread spice. The satiny texture on the palate is lush with flavors of cranberry and raspberry that yield to darker fruits, anise, and cinnamon. It’s a blend of 48% cabernet, 17% merlot, 14% petit verdot, 14% malbec and 7% cabernet Franc, aged just over 18 months in French oak barrels. The dry finish pairs well with richer meats like beef, lamb, bison, and venison.

Steinbeck 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon – $60
The aromas of this wine are reminiscent of a walk through a vineyard, with notes of cedar, cherry, dark plum, struck flint, and earthy cigar leaf. The palate shows complex dark fruits, mineral and soil expression, with a lingering finish of cassis and vanilla bean.

Stephen Ross 2019 Petite Sirah – $44
best cabernet, Bordeaux-style wine for 2023 holidaysVery densely colored, inky black-purple in color. Enticing aromas of dark plums, blackberries, violets, dark chocolate, cardamom, and burnt orange peel spice. Sophisticated hints of methanol and petrichor. Tannins are elegant and fine, contributing to a rich mid-palate and complex, lingering finish.

Tobin James 2019 Petite Sirah Midnight Magic – $28
This wine is rich and weighty, inky, and deliciously chewy. It has opaque midnight-violet and black hues, huckleberry, and ripe blueberry flavor with anise-licorice spice and dry pepper on the exhale. It is fruit forward with tannins. It pairs well with pork ribs, ribeye steak, lamb, and barbecue chicken. Also try it with manchego, smoked gouda, and camembert.

TreeSky 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon – $45
Dark strawberry, singed thyme, and crushed rock aromas converge on the nose of this wine. There’s ample density to the palate, where blackberry jam flavors meet with clove, vanilla, and a hint of game.

Victor Hugo 2020 Estate Opulence – $38
Intense, complicated, and rich. Aromatics emanating from the blend include hints of black cherries, dark chocolate, and violet intertwined with hints of oak. Flavors are deep and rich with pleasantly assertive tannins. The finish is lush with piquant acidity. Pairs well with filet or prime rib, and exotic game.

Victor Hugo 2020 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – $30
This elegant cabernet sauvignon, has intense aromas of bing cherries, ripe plum, and dark chocolate with just a hint of allspice on a background of subtle oak. It’s rich flavors are complemented by layers of both large soft tannins and complex oak tannins resulting in an long elegant finish. This wine will compliment best with red meats, pork, and decadent chocolate desserts.

More local wine recommendations



Publisher’s note: For the 10th year in a row we thought it would be fun to recommend local wines for the holidays. Once again, we received an amazing amount of participation from our local wineries. Over the last two weeks, we received more than 150 entries. Fortunately, there were many solid, well-made wines to recommend. We have created several lists of top local wines into categories. The recommended wines above are in alphabetical order.

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