Wine is meant to be drinkable, enjoyable and a reflection of the personality that made it possible. Even for the snootiest wino, price does not necessarily dictate a stunning flavor profile—they teach you that on the first day. On retail shelves across the country, low-priced wines are decorated with medals and can be bought with something less than an Alexander Hamilton. What about the good stuff?

The aspects needed to craft a proper red wine are not made, but cultivated through generations of time-tested tradition tending to the vine amidst the dirt and clay. In the rolling hills of California wine country, one winery stays true to its nature and offers a diverse sampling of treats from the vine aimed at all of the taste buds.

For the last 30 years, Peju Winery in the pristine Napa Valley, has offered a wide range of treats featuring 20 estate grown varietals. Each blend is a rare glimpse into high-end wine drinking made affordable by master craftsmen at the top of their game. While the price may range from low to high, Peju patrons are sure to get their money’s worth down to the last savory drop.

On the more affordable side, the Peju 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon is a product of a cool, wet growing season for the varietals used in this California treat. Harvested in October of 2011, the varietals used immediately hit the drinker with a refreshing west coast breeze of plum and oak accents among other flavors.  Despite lower alcohol content, the 2011 Peju Cabernet is hearty with a bold Smokey finish and remarkably light in weight.

The nose on this particular cabernet is rich and sharp, without overwhelming a novice to a red wine. For a new wine drinker, this is a perfect starter to introduce the pallet to red wine varietals, due to the mild tones masked by the bold aroma.

A light hint of thyme and vanilla can be found in the finish of the 2011 Cabernet, which is made whole and complimented by the mild tannins utilized. According to the taste profile, all five-Bordeaux varietals went in to the crafting of this hidden treasure. While many Bordeaux style wines may sit heavy on the gut, the Peju 2011 Cabernet compensates for its lack of weight with its rich taste. Not too light for pairing and not too heavy for drinking.

Try pairing the Peju 2011 Cabernet with a thick cut of beef, preferably of the steak variety. Heavy red meats bring out the lush, refreshing quality of this moderately priced red. Soft cheeses also work well to accent the diverse ingredients of the Cabernet, but feel free to branch out. The Peju Cabernet is an extremely versatile red that can pair with many grilled or sautéed dishes. Teriyaki Chicken, weirdly enough, also pairs well with the Cabernet and is a personal suggestion when trying this red for the first time.

If given a blind taste test, this reviewer would assume that a glass of this cabernet would cost around $20. You will be pleasantly surprised to learn the price of the 2011 Cabernet is marked at $50. Compared to other wines with similar profiles and from other prestigious wineries in California, the 2011 Cabernet stands out as an all-star for Peju and is affordable on almost any budget. Perfect for that fancy dinner party or social engagement where finger foods will be served. Check out other similar articles here.

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