On these deliciously cool evenings, we often crave the rich flavors of a cabernet sauvignon, and Oberon Napa Valley's 2008 vintage fills the bill nicely. It's not a huge or hugely complex cab, but for the price — it goes for around $20 at big box stores — it's a pleasing example of the varietal.
Oberon's winemakers draw from vineyards around Napa Valley for this wine, which is 87 percent cabernet sauvignon with smidges of merlot, syrah, cabernet franc and petit verdot.
Aromas of plum and a touch of leather preface the first sip, and those flavors follow through on the tongue, along with juicy cherry and dark berry. The medium-long finish bears notes of smoke and black pepper. Eighteen months of aging in French oak give it supple tannins and a hint of toffee.
This wine is a natural with steak, of course, but would pair nicely with a number of holiday dishes: a standing rib roast, a lush roast duck or a wheel of sturdy Stilton.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel. For an index and archive of reviews, go to pictograph.com.