There are a few wines that hold a special place in my heart for introducing me to the finest of fluids — wines that transcended my beginner palate, and appealed to me before I could even stand the smell of whiskey. Inevitably, not all of them were very good. I liked cloyingly sweet, over-oaked reds that I’ve since grown out of. However, one wine that introduced me to the medium I continue to love and drink to this day, and that’s Ringbolt Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon.

I first tried this potent Australian at a friends house, which had a large basement cellar. One entire wall of the cellar was filled with Ringbolt — her parents were apparently fiends for the stuff. When a bottle was opened at dinner, I quickly discovered why. Even though I was just getting into wine, I could still tell Ringbolt was special. While it possessed all the qualities of an entry-level wine that appealed to me — easily identifiable notes, rich flavour, solid oak — it also was unusually harmonious with incredible texture. Many years later, nothing has changed.

The 2012 Ringbolt is still the deep ruby red of yesteryear, and just as inviting to look at. Additionally, it smells fantastically of black berries, leather and jam. It’s an absolutely wonderful wine to whiff, and real fun to try with people less experienced with tasting, because the notes are so identifiable.

The taste is as fantastic as I remember it. It’s tons of blackberry and vanilla with a kick of bitter dark chocolate on the finish to make it interesting. Ringbolt also has surprisingly solid tannins, leading me to believe it could even be cellared for a few years. What’s more, the texture of this wine is nearly incomparable for an affordable Cab Sauv. It’s heavy weight and and silky texture make it an absolute pleasure to sip. Here’s the best part: it costs under $20. It looks, smells and tastes like a $30 wine, but significantly less debatable when you consider your bank balance.

What makes Ringbolt special is how it has stood the test of time. I liked it when I was young, I like it even more now. Whether you’re pouring a drink for a seasoned taster, or just breaking someone into red wine, Ringbolt won’t disappoint. It’s a wine I’ll be sipping slow for years to come.