Napacap"Man, these California wines suck!"

Last fall at the 2008 Wine Bloggers Conference, that quote could be attributed to me regularly. It was something I said out loud, in an exaggerated manner — mostly to make my fellow wine bloggers laugh. And it worked. Lots of laughs, eye rolls and comments about thin, underripe reds from New York.

I mean, they know me as the New York wine guy, so why not play that up by putting down those overripe, overoaked high-alcohol cocktail wines from California?

Oops, I did it again.

All jokes aside, not all California wines suck. They sell way too much of it — some at incredibly high prices — for that to be true. There must be something worth while. What is it about these wines that people love so much?

I don't know. But I want to at least attempt to find out.

And, I'm going with the King of all California wines, Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon. I'm soliciting recommendations from all of my bloggers/Twitter/wine friends for their favorite Napa cabs $50 and under. I know, this excludes the big boys that get the high-90s scores from the glossy publications, but hey, these are tough financial times for everyone.

So, if you have a favorite Napa cab that is $50 or less, let me know. Within the next few weeks, I'm going to get as many of these wines together as I can and host a blind tasting, throwing cabernet sauvignon from other regions into the mix as well.

Keep an eye out for a full tasting report when I'm done with this little experiment. And, if you have some suggestions for my next wine/AVA to explore, leave a comment.