Cabernet Sauvignon is a great grape variety, but is it so much better than the other top red grapes? And would you call a grape variety aristocratic? Some certainly do and I suppose that the reason is that it certainly has the ability to age superbly and is easy to grow - hence it has appeared all over the world, grown in a wide variety of climatic conditions.
And we British have always had an affinity for Bordeaux, the home of Cabernet Sauvignon, through our long term connections with the area. It's also important to remember that in Bordeaux Cabernet is not bottled as a varietal, but blended with softer grapes like Merlot to add complexity and soften the wine. Given time good red Bordeaux can develop into absolutely superb wine (as long as you're buying a classed growth) that is not going to give you much change from £60 when it's young, let alone when it's finally mature. But given today's habit of drinking wines young and the fact that not everyone can afford such pleasures, it seems to me that the art is in finding wines that give pleasure when relatively young. Hence my selection of Cabernet based wines below that is designed to give an introduction to this extraordinary grape variety. All the wines are drinking well now, and one is an amazing (and rare) example of a mature 1996 Bordeaux that costs - wait for it - all of £7.99! I have deliberately kept the cost of the case down to show that one can get good Cabernet at reasonable prices. Enjoy!