The Paso Dragon Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 is a Trader Joe’s $7.99 exclusive sourced from vineyards in the Paso Robles AVA of the Central Coast AVA in California. Paso Robles is about halfway between Los Angeles and San Fransisco.
Trader Joe’s does not offer up much information on this Cabernet. Most of the Fearless Flyer article refers to the Paso Dragon name. The Paso Drago is Lake Nacimiento which is located up in the hills and if you squint your eyes look something like a flying Dragon.
Paso Robles is getting a very good reputation for growing Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Other California AVAs tend to emulate France or Italy and focus on Pinot Noir like Burgundy or Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot such as Bordeaux. But Paso Robles follows no one it does its own thing. While they respect other wine regions they are free to try needed techniques and styles.
How much innovation and style is going to show up in a $7.99 Bottle of Paso Dragon Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 remains to be seen (the glass is poured just have not tried a sip, yet).
Cabernet Sauvignon is usually problematic with sub-ten-dollar wine. Oak flavor and conditioning are an internal part of the Cabernet flavor profile. A good oak barrel can cost $1,000 and a Cabernet Sauvignon barrel does not hold all that much wine.
There is not a lot of budget for a $7.99 wine for wine barrels. Yes, you do see a good many used barrels (oak barrels can be used up to five times before they are considered neutral) and that does help defray the expense. Getting authentic oak barrel flavoring into an inexpensive Cab takes skill and expertise.
The Paso Dragon has a heavy, expensive bottle and has its name stamped on the cork. The label is equal to any retail store wine brand, they did not skimp on the packaging for this wine. I always say you can choose a wine by the label and so far so good. The alcohol content is a reasonable 13.5%.
Paso Dragon Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 Tasting Notes
The color is dark black cherry red with an almost clear halo. The nose is extracted blackberry, a little, spice, light herbs, ripe raspberry, and orange zest. The Fearless Flyer mentioned toasted marshmallows which I didn’t find, but you might want to see if you get it.
This is a smooth Cabernet Sauvignon with rich flavors, maybe not be too complex, but what is in your glass is tasty. It starts with blackberry, strong licorice, dusty chocolate powder, and plum. The mid-palate adds a little blueberry, some vanilla, and a late slap of spice.
The acidity is hitting my palate a little oddly, getting a fizzy sensation. It isn’t pronounced and it does not hinder the wine’s enjoyment. I could very well be just me, I do not think that everyone will share this experience. I always feel slightly silly complaining that a $7.99 wine isn’t perfect. A few years ago an odd reaction to a cheap wine’s acidity would be the least of the problems. I am kind of nitpicking while trying to be accurate.
- The Paso Dragon Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 is a solid California Cab and drinks well above its price tag.
- With each sip, my issue with the acidity diminished and again it did not interfere with my sipping enjoyment.
- The oak flavoring in this Cab is solid, sometimes inexpensive Cabernet Sauvignon has “fake” tasting flavorings. That is not an issue here. I do not know how the oak got into the wine, but whichever method they used worked well.