Oak Leaf Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $3
Maker: Oak Leaf Vineyards, Ripon, California
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, artificial cork
Alcohol: 12.5%
Our Rating: 8 out of 10

We’ve been hoping for a Two Buck Chuck beater to emerge, and it looks like Oak Leaf Cabernet Sauvignon may be it. This non-vintage offering is sold by Wal-Mart, and seems to be aimed squarely at the Charles Shaw wines sold through the much smaller Trader Joe’s chain. The nose is a rather unprepossessing mix of oak and vanilla. The flavor has lots of cherries and raspberries, along with vanilla. The finish is oaky with prominent tannins. Overall, this Cab is simple and juicy. It has a nice finish for a cheap non-vintage wine. There’s an unusual residual berry flavor, almost perfumy, that lingered on the tongue.

Overall, Oak Leaf Cabernet Sauvignon beats its $3-range competition like Two Buck Chuck and Tisdale. It’s all relative, of course. None of these are great wines, but to my taste this is the most drinkable one of the bunch. Plus, it has the advantage of widespread distribution via Wal-Mart.

11 thoughts on “Oak Leaf Cabernet Sauvignon

  1. Jim Kay

    Returned home today with a bottle of the 2007 Toca Diamonte Malbec/Cab and one Oak Leaf Chardonnay. Google turned up your site when I searched on the Toca. We are enjoying the Toca tonight, espeically in comparison to a $13 Bordeaux we tried last night. It has a nice black fruit palate and pleasantly sour finish. I think Argentina’s currency is one of the few down in relation to the dollar. For me this $4 wine outperforms it class. Could the 2004 you tasted recently be a bit out of date?
    We’ll try the Oak Leaf Chard this weekend. I didn’t have the guts to buy one of the reds (Cab and Merlot) or the White (pink) Zinfandel. Guess I should have tried the Cab.

    Reply
  2. Cheap Wine Critic

    I have spent a lot of time researching Oak Leaf Vineyards post. It seems most people like the different option that Oak Leaf Vineyards has given us. At price you can afford to dump down the sink if you think it sucks. Many people have commented on my own site http://www.cheapwinecritics.com I personally have been looking for a good muscadine wine. Hit me up on my site if you know one!!

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  3. Steve Bridges

    Picked up a case of the Cabernet Sauvignon just for fun at Wal Mart in Carson City, Nevada. At $1.97/bottle, how could I go wrong. Was very impressed.. much better than the Charles Shaw which goes for $2.99 in Nevada Trader Joe’s. A wonderful value.

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  4. Scott R. Lucado

    A few months ago, I tried the Oak Leaf Merlot and Cabernet. The Merlot was pretty awful; not entirely undrinkable, but certainly disappointing, and I won’t buy it again.

    The Cabernet was a pleasant surprise. I was expecting a pretty coarse wine, but was shocked to find a smooth, flavorful, easy-going cabernet, not bone-dry but definitely worth more than three bucks.

    A while later, I did a blind taste-test with some friends, comparing Oak Leaf Cabernet Sauvignon against another (~$15) Cabernet (which shall remain nameless). My friends vastly preferred the Oak Leaf, and have now become big fans.

    Try a similar experiment and see what your friends think–before *and* after you tell them it’s from Wal-Mart.

    Cheers,
    Scott

    Reply
  5. Tim

    We purchase the wine everytime we head to our place in New Hampshire, for the price, the quality of the wine cannot be beat!

    Reply
  6. Fred M

    Oak Leaf Vineyards (Ripon, Calif.) does not really exist as such; instead it is a production facility of The Wine Group, Inc. Oak Leaf wine is the private label non-vintage wine marketed by The Wine Group (the box wine people) only to Wal-Mart stores. (Not E&J Gallo as some reviews contend.) Headquartered in San Francisco (about 70 miles west of Ripon), The Wine Group’s labels include such well known brands as Corbett Canyon, Inglenook, Mogen David, Franzia, Almaden and Glen Ellen wines. The firm recently relocated their operations center from San Francisco to Livermore, Calif., about mid-way between San Francisco and Ripon. Privately held, The Wine Group was once part of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of New York. And being privately held, its operation and products are kept pretty much secret. It doesn’t even have a corporate website, although it does have brand-related sites. Strange for the second largest wine producer in California (more than 40 million cases produced annually), second only to Gallo. Oak Leaf wines are very similar to Bronco’s Charles Shaw wines (affectionately nicknamed “Two Buck Chuck”) which sells for $1.99 at Trader Joe’s stores. Headquartered in Monrovia, Calif., Trader Joe’s 300 stores has sold millions of cases of what the trade calls “extreme value wines.” Due to transportation charges to outlying states, the price can be a dollar more. The Charles Shaw label is a brand of the Bronco Wine Company (Ceres, Calif.) owned by John and Fred Franzia (formerly of Franzia Brothers wines.) The Franzias (nephews of Ernest Gallo) sold the Franzia brand name to The Wine Group and started Bronco Wines and they are competitors. The Franzia family, which now has no relationship to Franzia brand boxed wine, has made wine in California for over 100 years. Bronco is California’s third largest wine producer. Oak Leaf Vineyards (which doesn’t even have its own telephone number) is one of hundreds of wine brands bottled by The Wine Group in Ripon. It does not release the private labels of the wines it makes but there are many. Oak Leaf wines come in five varietals: Cabenet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio/Chardonnay and White Zinfandel. The standard 750-ml bottles with an artificial cork have an elegant label that shows four seasonal oak trees, one for Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. We are not one to place a lot of importance on awards since it seems all wineries get them. But Oak Leaf Vineyards did win a gold medal at the prestigious Florida State International Wine Competition and Silver and Bronze at the 2008 San Francisco Wine Competition. Incredible for a $3 wine! And the Summer-2008 edition of “O at Home” magazine (an Oprah Winfrey publication) featured Oak Leaf wine on its cover with the tag line: “The $3 bottle of wine that will blow you away.” On page 19, they picture Oak Leaf Chardonnay and call it “The steal of the season.” I like the Cabernet Sauvignon best myself. It is a full favored, medium body wine with a fruity aroma of berry, spice, vanilla and oak …pretty smooth and no unpleasant aftertaste. This is not a sophisticated wine but a terrific value at $2.97. Wine snobs won’t like it because it is inexpensive and comes from Wal-Mart. But the fact is that it is better than one would expect. I certainly have had $10-$15 French wine far worse. Wal-Mart sells out of it fast, so I buy several bottles whenever they have it. So far, it has been consistently good …a problem with low price wines. (One bottle may be good, the next not so good.) The Oak Leaf brand is perfect for an everyday wine to compliment dine-in dinner and snacks on the patio. Goes with almost anything. I rate it an “80″ out of 100.

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  7. Jerryg

    Pleasently surprised to find a worthy challenger to Tj’s 2 buck chuck. I thought the latest vintage of Shaw Cabs was below par. Actually prefer this non vintage upstart from Walmart. Don’t understand why no one has mentioned the Oak Leaf Shiraz which IMHO leads the $2 pack.

    Reply
  8. richard martin

    I live in Windermere, Fla 34786 who besides Wal Marts stocks yr 3L box of Cabernrt Sauvignon & Pinot Grigio? Wal Marts rarely Stocks I hv spoke to their Mgr. no help. I enjoy a glass or two during week can you advise I tried Targets no help!! Tks. Richard Martin

    Reply

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