This Cabernet from Once Wines, which makes private-label wines for some of the country's top restaurants, is part of their Sommelier Series. In 2007, Daniel Johnnes, wine director for Daniel Boulud's restaurants, challenged the sommeliers in town for his annual "La Paulée de New York" tasting to blend a perfect, food-friendly Cabernet. This is the wine that scored highest with the judges: a master sommelier and two of the biggest names in Burgundy.
Young, but accessible, it's velvety and bright, the fruit tightly woven into the structure. Barely kissed with oak, it is a blend of Cabernet with 18% Cab Franc and a wee bit of Petit Verdot (barely 4%).
All this, and it's just $28? I'd say it's a gift.
Enjoy a bottle with steak frites, a standing rib roast or a nice stew.
-- S. Irene Virbila
Region: Napa Valley
Price: About $28.
What it goes with: Steak, chops, roasts and stews.
Where to find it: K&L Wine Merchants in Hollywood, (323) 464-9463, www.klwines.com; Liquid Wine & Spirits in Chatsworth, (818) 709-5019, www.liquidpartyworks.com; Mission Wines in South Pasadena, (626) 403-9463, www.missionwines.com; Red Carpet Wine in Glendale, (818) 247-5544 or (800) 339-0609, www.redcarpetwine; and Woodland Hills Wine Co. in Woodland Hills, (818) 222-1111, www.whwc.com.