Take a look at the 2004 Maddalena Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, California. $14, 14% abv. Black cherry aromas with a hint of tea, full black cherry flavors and medium tannins. It's surprisingly balanced and enjoyable for a cab sav at its price point.
I served it with a meal of braised beef short ribs and pasta, which was a perfect winter meal a month ago when it still felt like winter here in Memphis. I love short ribs, particularly when they've been braising in wine and tomato sauce and garlic for several hours. Just skim off the fat to keep them from being overly greasy, and you're good to go. Some folks like to serve them with potatoes or gnocchi, but I like them with broad flat egg noodles.
I base the following opinion not on any direct experience, but rather indirectly from the wines I've tried: if nothing else mattered and I could just walk away today from all my existing commitments, I think I'd like to work in the wine industry in Paso Robles. Napa kind of scares me. High prices in real estate and high expectations with the wine, combined with the dominance of Burgundy grapes and strict rules seems a bit stressful. Paso Robles looks like the kind of place where you could say, "Hey, let's try a blend of Petite Sirah and Marsanne" and folks would say, "Cool, let's check it out!" Given my weird tastes and the 45 varietals grown in the area, it just seems the perfect home for an adventurous palate.