The best cabernet sauvignons of the Peñín Guide 

29 April 2021

Last week José Peñín published an interesting post about Cabernet Sauvignon in Spain (in Spanish), probably the most popular red grape in the world for its ability to enhance wine. We wanted to take advantage of this review of the most famous red grape in the world to see what great wines have been made from it in our country. Below we show you the best Cabernet Sauvignon wines found by the tasting team in recent years.

There was a time, not so long ago, when cabernet sauvignon was a commercially solid argument in the production areas of half of Spain. It was common to find it in the blends of great wines, many of which are now focused on more local grapes. We have seen it present in iconic Priorat wines such as L'Ermita or in Ribera del Duero ones such as Vega Sicilia, still present today. This cabernet prominence of yesteryear was not concealed, quite the opposite, it was flaunted. Today many producers and wine lovers deny it, but some of its great vineyards are still, fortunately, present among us.

Fasten your seat belts and get ready to take a stroll with the hefty Spanish cabernet sauvignons that have achieved the highest scores in the last six years.

Abadía Retuerta Pago Valdebellón 2015

97 points

Winery: Abadía Retuerta.

Growing area: Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León - Sardón de Duero.

Retail price:  68 euros.


The winery from the Ribera del Duero has been the best producer of Cabernet Sauvignon to date with this Pago Valdebellón, a wine whose grapes come from a limestone terroir with a loamy texture and that in this Castilian chateau has reached heights of quality never before experienced in Spain.

Abadía Retuerta brings us a national style Cabernet Sauvignon, ripe, structured and with a refined reduction. A superb expression, which has helped it to obtain the highest score for a Spanish Cabernet Sauvignon to date. One senses in it a long ageing capacity in which its nuances are refined to achieve a subtle elegance, although these are speculations of wine lovers and even more so if we take into account that 2015 was a warm year in the area, with historic highs in the month of July. Nothing prevented this wine from reaching our glass full of energy. We still remember how it advanced little by little until it reached its final score, in the comparative exercise that we do every year with the best wines of the year.

Mas La Plana Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 Reserva

94 points

Winery: Familia Torres.

Growing area: Penedès.

Retail price: 84,70 euros.

Cabernet had a major impact on the Iberian Peninsula in the 1970s. Its planting and growth spread to all corners of Spain, even in climates that were scarcely explored for this type of variety, such as the Mediterranean. In Catalonia, Cabernet entered with force and had a great impact in areas such as Penedès, our next stop. The Torres family has always had great skill when it comes to interpreting the right moment for each variety and production, and this Mas la Plana soon became an icon for this winemaking house and also a benchmark for national cabernet. We are entering another style of cabernet sauvignon, as it shows a very unusual Mediterranean style, at least in its beginnings, since it tamed to a certain extent the muscular structure that could be obtained in more extreme climates, as would happen in many of its wines from the interior of the peninsula.

Mas Candí Sol+Sol 2012

94 points

Winery: Mas Candí.

Growing area: Penedès.

Retail price: 30 euros.

This wine represents a good number of varieties which, being Cabernet Sauvignon the main variety (90%), accepts 10% of other grapes to polish de final style of the house, on this occasion Más Candí, also present in the Penedès. We return to a Mediterranean style that combines intensity and restrained herbaceous notes, ageing well present in the overall wine, but with a well worked silky tannin, and a great richness of aromas and flavours. Más Candí Sol + Sol represents the sun-kissed cabernet on clay and limestone soils. At the time of its tasting the wine had a good dose of oak, but underlying  were interesting aromas of black fruit, wild herbs and rich earthy nuances.

Vaso de Luz 2009 Reserva

94 puntos

Bodega: Pago los Balancines.

Zona de producción: Ribera del Guadiana.

P.V.P: 49 euros.

Under the Extremadura sun, the Pago los Balancines winery brought us for the 2014 edition of the Guide a cabernet sauvignon that, despite having the strength and structure of the region, managed to tame with finesse a cabernet that beforehand would seem wild and unruly. In those years, Pedro Mercado managed to position his cabernet among the highest in Spain, quite a feat in the area. Time has led him to redirect his work in favour of other more local varieties, a phenomenon that has spread all over the world.

Only one cabernet sauvignon on the Peñín Guide podium

It is interesting to note that just one single varietal Cabernet Sauvignon has managed to position itself on the podium of the Peñín Guide in recent years. This phenomenon indicates that despite being a noble variety, with great oenological attributes (colour, aroma, tannin and acidity), it does not manage to shine in the same way as it does in its homeland Bordeaux, or even in the best vineyards of Chile and California, where it reaches unique levels of excellence. It is also relevant to see how Cabernet Sauvignon increases its quality levels when it reduces its percentage in the blend. For example, we can see it in Podio wines, in such outstanding wines as El Nido (96 points - 70% cabernet sauvignon), or in wines that verge on perfection, such as Viña Sastre Pesus 2011, which reached 97 points and contained only 10% cabernet, or Vega Sicilia Único 2011, where today we can find it at only 5%.

Spanish winemakers have realised that this variety is more valuable as a companion than on its own, as it is capable of making up for some of the shortcomings of the other varieties in a masterful way thanks to its striking personality and, above all, its acidity and character that brings freshness to the whole.

The best in the 2020 tastings

If we look at the best rated cabernets in the latest tastings of the Peñín Guide, we can see a slight drop in the scores. This may be due to the fact that some of these cabernets that shone six years ago are no longer being produced, precisely at a time when foreign wines seem to have no place in the new winegrowing policy. All in all, there are still good examples of this variety, although we would have liked to taste more Podium 100% cabernet wines.

    Written by Redacción

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