Brian Demay’s Wine Wednesday: Bonanza Cabernet

One of the most memorable wine experiences of my life was when I got to taste three so-called “super premium” Cabernets from Napa Valley. These wines are way out of my price range, truly top-of-the-line, and it was unbelievable luck that I got to taste even one, let alone three!

One of those bottles was the 2015 Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, which immediately jumped into my top 3 favorite bottles of all-time. It was everything I love about red wine: layers and layers of flavor that came in waves, changing with each sip, deep, rich complexity, and a finish that literally continued for a good two minutes after I swallowed it.

So that was going through my head as I picked up this week’s featured wine and read the label, “Bonanza, by Chuck Wagner of Caymus.” An entry-level Cabernet by the winemaker responsible for one of my favorite wines of all time? YES PLEASE!

Now, this $21 wine is obviously not going to rise to the level of a $300 bottle of premium Napa Cabernet, but as Maren Morris sings, “If the bones are good, the rest don’t matter.” This is a very solid California Cabernet with a few premium touches. Chuck Wagner took grapes from all over California to make this Cabernet, and that includes grapes from different harvests, to achieve the consistent flavor he wanted. That is why this wine is listed as “NV,” aka non-vintage.

Bonanza is very smooth, with rich blackberry, plum and vanilla flavors. It’s very fruity upfront, with a slightly tart finish, and hints of licorice, cinnamon and spice. This is a very nice wine, and I have had it several times with similar results. It has not become a regular go-to for me because it is often $22 or more, and there are other less expensive wines that have bolder flavors and a bit more complexity, which I prefer, but Bonanza is definitely one to try. It’s a heck of a lot better than most wines at this price point!

On my five-cork scale based on taste and value, Bonanza Cabernet from Chuck Wagner gets 3.8 corks! It’s no mean feat to produce a consistently good California Cabernet Sauvignon at a reasonable price, but that is what this wine is.

If you’d like to try interesting wines like this, please join me at our next private wine party coming soon! Usually, I host a wine dinner every month, and we feature several interesting wines, each paired with a delicious course. There are always cool prizes to win, too, so listen Wednesday at 4:15 to win your spot on the guest list, or click here for a chance to win!

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