After a recent post highlighting one of my favorite “go-to wines,” McManis Petite Sirah, I began thinking about the other great under $20 go-to bottles I keep around the house for those lonely nights impromptu dinners, and the 2006 Rancho Sisquoc Cabernet Sauvignon instantly came to mind.
Set in Santa Barbara County alongside other central coast winery hotspots like Foxen, Zaca Mesa, and Longoria, Rancho Sisquoc has been turning out excellent, affordable, estate-grown wines since 1972. Now celebrating his tenth year as winemaker, Alec Franks continues the tradition, elevating the winery’s reputation with every vintage. (I had a chance to barrel-taste the ’07 Cabernet on my last visit, and it seems just as promising!)
The 2006 Cabernet speaks of blackberry and chocolate with an air of cedar and vanilla. A splash of Merlot and Petit Verdot round out the tannins, all leading to a wonderfully earthy finish ripe with notes of plum, pepper, and cocoa. I definitely recommend opening this an hour or two before serving (or running it through your Vinturi) to let the flavors fully expand and develop.
The heavy chocolate-berry backbone, deep ruby hue, and 15.1% abv make it a natural match for any hearty roast or steak, but the jammy fruitiness and hint of cola on the palate make it just as pleasant for savoring all on its own. And at around a very reasonable $16-$18 a bottle, why wouldn’t you?