Cheap Cab Throwdown-McManis vs. Josh


A while back we discovered a Cabernet Sauvignon from McManis Family Vineyards in California’s northern interior area, a nicely balanced, value-priced wine that was excellent for everyday consumption. A couple of months later we bought Josh, a popular California Cab from Total Wine that we thought was pretty good, but is it better than McManis? This question calls for a throwdown.

Our McManis and Josh Cabernet Sauvignon are both 2014 vintage. The McManis pour is a sparkly ruby red, while Josh has more plum tones and thinner color around the edges. McManis is more opaque than Josh.

The McManis nose is bigger and fruitier than Josh, one of the things we found attractive about this wine in the first place. Nice sweet cherries abound. Secondary aromas include rose floral bouquet and damp forested woodlands. Josh loses ground on the nose with the light raspberry fruit taking a back seat to the barnyard. It’s earthy, herbal, and has a hint of cola. If Josh had less hay aroma, we would have graded it as “different”, not “less than” the McManis.

Both Cabs are fruit-driven on the palate, tasting of ripe cherry, blackberry, and currants. McManis adds secondary flavors of cassis, pepper, green spices, vanilla, and oak. In contrast, Josh has a pleasing cola flavor with hints of oak and vanilla.

Had the tasting stopped at the mid-palate, this throwdown may have been a tie, but the Josh Cab became a little green on the finish, tasting of tartness of unripe fruit. McManis continued into a smooth, medium-length finish. The soft tannins in McManis underscored the lack of tannins in Josh.

Based on personal preference, you may like more reserved fruits, or find the cola aspect of Josh a winner, but overall, we felt that McManis was the winner, based on more complexity on the palate, smoother, less tart finish, and better balance of acidity. We thought better of Josh before our throwdown and tasting the two back to back made us appreciate McManis even more.

Published by J Reilly

I've been writing the Boozy Lifestyle blog since 2014 and recently expanded upon it to create my new book, Boozy Lifestyle: Elevate The Everyday With Booze As Your Muse. The book is a collection of stories celebrating and inspiring everyday life with entertaining tales of wine, food, booze, travel, and family, and including over 50 food and drink recipes. Visit me on Twitter at J Reilly@Boozy_Lifestyle or

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