In California, we’re blessed with a bounty of fine wines that have made US wines much sought after in many parts of the world. In fact, in 1976, a blind tasting in Paris pitted the best of California wines against the best of France. The tasters were all noted French authorities with impeccable credentials. But the unthinkable happened. The 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon was judged the best. The Napa Cabernet had bested four top-ranked Bordeaux, including first-growths Château Mouton-Rothschild and Château Haut-Brion. The 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay from California bested its French counterparts. That event was the graduation of California wine to a world stage. We have sensational wines in California that compare favorably to the great standbys in everything but high cost. we sought to identify both acknowledged great wines, considered “expensive” and their “less expensive” counterparts that compare favorably to the top wines. We hope you enjoy reading this piece as much as we enjoyed putting it together. Drink up!
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2014 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, $84.98
Scoring 94 points by Robert Parker, this wine delivers rich, ripe fruit with layers of cocoa, cassis and blackberries.
Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, $44.91
This new kid on the block is not messing around, scoring 97 points by Wine Enthusiast and flying off our shelves! This cab is full of juicy blackberry and cherry fruit that play alongside hints of cedar, clove and vanilla bean. Full-bodied and beautifully structured.
2014 Justin Isosceles Bordeaux Red Blend, Paso Robles, $69.98
Justin’s flagship wine is ready to drink now with loads of black fruit, spice and incredible texture.
2015 Chappel let Mountain Cuvee, Napa Valley, $29.99
This wine is consistently amazing every vintage and offers a silky palate with flavors of red currant and cassis, blended in with smoke and vanilla. Integrated tannins add structure to this blend of Bordeaux varietals.
The Prisoner Wine Co. “The Prisoner” Red Blend, Napa Valley, $39.91
This popular red blend offers a yummy mouthful of ripe boysenberry, raspberry, pomegranate and vanilla, leading into a smooth finish.
Daou “Pessimist” Red Blend, Paso Robles, $18.98
A big, velvety blend with flavors of black cherry, blueberry and creme de cassis, along with a touch of lavender, anise and black olives. Enjoy a long, smooth finish of dark berries.
Belle Glos “Los Alturas” Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, $39.98
Another great wine from the Wagner Family, this pinot is juicy with ruby red colors and bold flavors of blackberries, Bing cherries, dark chocolate, vanilla and refined tannins. The finish is layered with ripe fruit.
Luli Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, $21.99
The perfect pinot for every occasion. Luli offers a seductive mouthfeel with flavors of raspberry, dark ripe fruits and silky tannins.
Rombauer Chardonnay, Carneros, $36.99
Everyone’s favorite chardonnay, this wine fills your mouth with flavors of vanilla, peach and buttery pie crust, with the perfect amount of acidity.
(Compares to the 2016 Rombauer Chard)
Paul Hobbs “Crossbarn” Chardonnay, Sonoma County, $24.91
A chardonnay with a wow factor that’s easy on the wallet. Satisfying stone fruit flavors that intermingle with notes of citrus and creamy honeysuckle and finishes with crisp acidity.
Cakebread Chardonnay, Napa Valley, $36.99
Vibrant and crisp flavors of apple, white peach melon and pear, finishing with refreshing citrus.
Mer Soleil Reserve Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands, $24.91
From the Wagner Family (Caymus), this lovely chardonnay is lively with ripe fruit, orange blossom and a touch of vanilla. Enjoy a finish of light oak and butter.
Illumination Sauvignon, Napa Valley, $39.91
One of Napa’s most sought-after white wines, bursting with exotic flavors of white peach, lemon sorbet and pink grapefruit, followed by a creamy texture and solid minerality.
Honig Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, $16.99
This sauvignon blanc way over-delivers for the price. Vibrant, crisp and refreshing with flavors of peaches, ripe pear, lime and grapefruit, followed by bright, tropical fruit notes.