Cabernet sauvignons are one of CHOICE members’ favourite wines, with their suggested labels, most of which hail from the Coonawarra region in south-eastern SA, performing well in this bracket. Price seemed to correlate with quality, so expect to pay more than $20 for a good cabernet sauvignon. However, the Pepper Tree 2008 ($15) and Jacob’s Creek Reserve 2008 ($18) are solid budget alternatives; our judges believed they need more cellar time to fully develop, but offer an earthy nose and a fruity palate. Cabernet merlots were described by the panel as “disappointing”, much like merlots generally. The only one to rank in the top five was the Vasse Felix Cabernet Merlot 2008. At less than $16 a bottle, the Penfolds Koonunga Hill 2008 is a good quaffing cabernet merlot for a dinner party, with a bold sweet front and lingering mouthfeel.