It's been a weird year for me with wine.  I will always consider myself a Cab/Bordeaux guy, but my most recent trip to Napa and Sonoma opened the door for some varietals that sometimes get lost in the shuffle. I bought a total of two mixed cases from about ten different producers in Napa and Sonoma.  I bought ONE Cabernet.  How does that happen in Napa?   I found so many good Zins, Syrahs, Petit Sirahs and Grenaches that were well priced.  I'm debating whether my palate is changing or I'm just looking for value.  My standout value Cabernet come from Washington. 
 
The 2007 Seven Hills Cabernet has a nose of ripe bing cherry, cassis and warm Earth.  It was well balanced with ripe berry flavors, good acidity and smooth tannins.  This wine is a steal under $20.  
 
For the other varietals I mentioned, the last wine meeting I attended, my collegues and I tasted some beauties. 
 
This had a nose of ripe, cooked berries, black pepper and fried bacon.  In the mouth, it was very refreshing, with ripe and bright berry flavors.  It also had a nice, underlying Earthy quality to it as well.  The ripeness in this wine could pass for a 100+ year old vine Spanish Garnacha.  Great value, here.  
 
Very powerful and fragrant nose that yields ripe, dark cherry, black pepper, potpurri, peppered bacon, smoked meat and leather.  This literally hurt my nose when I smelled this wine-but I couldn't stop smelling it.  In the mouth this was bold, with racy acidity.  The tannins were gripping and herbacious.  Even though this wine is a decade or more from being ready to drink, it's probably the best wine I've had this year.  Even though this runs $79.99, and it's not ready to drink, I still find value in it.  Cote Rotie is a region in Northern Rhone that is allowed to add up to 20% Viognier to its Syrah.  I don't know exactly how much Viognier is in this monster, but with the fragrance in the nose, I'm guessing there is 20%.  
 
This comes from the Montelena Estate in Calistoga.  Calistoga is one of the newest appelations in the northern part of Napa.  Even though it is the northermost spot in Napa, it is actually the warmest part of the valley.  Zin, Petit Sirah and Cabernet do really well in Calistoga.  The Montelena Zin is fairly low production compared to the similarly priced Montelena wines.  The wine is very ripe, peppery and velvety.  With the factors of the "rarity," pricepoint and high quality, this Zin is a great buy.