Top 15 Cabernet Sauvignons

This year saw the drinks business build on its successful Masters series with the introduction of a competition dedicated to the world’s most widely planted grape variety, often referred to as the “King of the grapes”, Cabernet Sauvignon.


The Drinks Business Global Cabernet Sauvignon Masters stands out for its assessment of wines purely by grape variety rather than region.

Divided only by price bracket and whether the style was oaked or unoaked, the blind tasting format allowed wines to be assessed without prejudice about their country of origin.

Wines were scored out of 100, with those gaining over 95 points being awarded the top title of Master. Those earning over 90 points were given a Gold, those over 85 points a Silver and those over 80 points a Bronze.

The wines were judged by a stellar panel of Masters of Wine at Elysee restaurant in Goodge Street on 8 May.

The judges were: Mark Savage MW of Savage Selection, Sebastian Payne MW of The Wine Society, Demetri Walters MW of Berry Bros & Rudd, Rebecca Palmer of Corney & Barrow, Justin Knock MW of Encirc, Vanessa Cinti of CUT at 45 Park Lane and Hugo Rose MW of the Wine Investment Association.

Joining our MW’s on the judging panel were Patrick Schmitt, editor of the drinks business, and deputy editor Lucy Shaw.

With over 200 entries from nine different countries, click through to find out which wines topped our list…

10 Responses to “Top 15 Cabernet Sauvignons”

  1. Jacques Hughes says:

    You’ll loose your credibility publishing such random results as this. It is very limited; probably because nobody bothered to send in samples, but worst of all it is so inconsistent – who can’t spot an overworked Chilean from an above average Australian from a Spanish brett bomb?? Completely out of touch with the wine world, but worst of all, completely out of touch with the consumer. Meaningless and laughable – come down from Cloud Cuckoo Land. If you are going to conduct such a tasting, make the effort to get the best cabernets from around the world and include different types of commercially talented and fault sensitive judges – a few specialists from the new world who reside in the UK may help.

  2. While Jacques Hughes’ comments are rather harsh, and not to discredit the wines selected here, it is unthinkable that you couldn’t find a larger sample. Agree totally meaningless…
    I would have hoped you held yourselves to a higher standard.

  3. Patrick Schmitt says:

    These results were not generated randomly, and this list is just a snapshot. As the introduction above explains, these 15 wines were selected by a set of extremely experienced tasters in a blind tasting of over 200 wines which were entered into the competition by producers from nine different countries.
    We have yet to post online the full list of medallists, but the results will be featured in July edition of The Drinks Business. If you subscribe to the magazine, you will be able to see the list of all the medallists, as well as a full report on the tasting, and the trends that emerged from it.
    This list online features only the Gold and Master winning wines from a range of price bands.


    is it advertising ? 🙂

  5. Will Moore says:

    Jacques Hughes, if you actually read the column, the tasters were MW’s – a certification that, most likely, qualifies their opinion to be far more valid than yours or mine. I think the selections mentioned online are a refreshing look at some of the vineyards and producers from different parts of the world that many consumers don’t think of when it comes to world class Cabernet. Napa and Bordeaux can take a backseat for at least one article. Besides, the Mas La Plana is one if the best Cabs I’ve ever had from anywhere, Napa and France imcluded. So, a list that includes it, is alright by me.

  6. Jacques Hughes says:

    Will Moore, I did notice that many of the judges are MWs and I do hold many of them in high esteem, but I would have also liked to have seen their viewpoint balanced by tasters from the other end of the spectrum e.g. winemakers who make Cabernet Sauvignon, Australian circuit judges, experienced commercial wine buyers, ‘fault meisters’ etc. I would have also liked to have seen some of the best Cabernets in the world vying for the top places. The fact that you think Mas La Plana is one of the greatest cabernets ‘from anywhere’, probably puts you firmly into the traditionalists camp – I guess that one of your favourite Chateauneufs is Ch. de Beaucastel and that you also enjoy the wines of Ch. Musar; you probably also enjoy Northern Italian classics. There is nothing wrong with this, but it just proves that there are two sides to the coin and therefore a more eclectic judging panel with broader range of experiences would be much better.
    I can’t wait to see the results of all 200+.

  7. All
    Ok…let’s calm down a little. Living on the West Coast of US, and having made my own cabernet over the years in CA, and judging internationally, I too feel that this Top 15 does seem to ignore/discount arguably some of the best Cabernets made in the world; e.g Bolgheri based wines, top Napa or Washignton Cabernets, top Pauillac etc.
    It will be quite useful to see the full list, therefore.
    As to the qualifications of the Judges–I know all of these people. I can assure you (Jacques) they are broadly experienced, very open-minded, a couple ARE winemakers.
    I will say, however, that to perform such a tasting (without tongue in cheek!) requires purchasing/obtaining a huge range of wines to ever be considered a definitive “masters” tasting of cabernet. I fear that the selection available was too limited, hence the high number of South American representatives, the low number of American, typical of the UK market.
    Were Medoc wines not allowed, unless they reached the 85% minimum content to be considered “varietal”?

    What about Italy? IF John Riddoch was a winner (as it should be!) where was Penfolds Bin 707 for example?

    Thus, I don’t quibble with the results, but I do say that to make this a Realistic, solidly based tasting, one would need to have at least 500-1000 wines, not just those obtained freely, but also purchased.
    To my mind, and perhaps because I was a Senior Judge, I remember several years ago judging at the IWC. I remember very well when the results came out for the Cabernet group trophy, over 1500 wines were evaluated, and the winner was from the company I then worked for: 1997 Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Private Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet. It was/is a superb wine still, and I think the runners-up included 1996 Mouton among others. The point is, I would argue that this type of tasting with so many more examples to pull from, represents a much better articulation of what constitutes a definitive “best Cabernets” in the world tasting. –Joel Butler MW

  8. Patrick Schmitt says:

    Just to add that the minimum Cabernet content required for this tasting was 75%, although the blends were tasted separately from the varietal examples, and the majority of entries were 100% Cab. The entries were mostly from outside Europe, and the majority were in the £10-20 price band, with just over 40 wines entered into the £40 plus category.
    For a report on a blind tasting of the world’s most expensive/famous Cabernet blends, including all five first growths, please see this link covering a different tasting I took part in last year:

  9. Jacques Hughes says:

    I agree with Joel Butler, he just put it more eloquently than I could. But Patrick, your tasting of the worlds ‘most expensive’ Cabernet blends was also a futile exercise – I won’t go into detail as it is obvious to most.

  10. Patrick Schmitt says:

    Jacques, the tasting of famous Cabs wasn’t mine, but, as clearly stated in the report, it was organised by Chris Hatcher from Wolf Blass.

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