If the price gives you pause, consider that this is a collector's wine in a league with top-notch Bordeaux that would cost three to five times more. It is a special wine that deserves a special price.
Wines are rated on a 100-point scale. Wines are chosen for review because they represent outstanding quality or value, and the scores are simply a measure of this reviewer's enthusiasm for the recommended wine.
Chappellet 2013 Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon ($220) -- The Pritchard Hill is Chappellet's benchmark cab, and the 2013 is another masterpiece. Richly layered with impressive depth and length, this wine offers up succulent notes of ripe blackberry, currant and blueberry, with subtle notes of wood spice. The tannins are ample but supple, suggesting a bright future. It's clearly one of the stars of the exceptional 2013 vintage. Rating: 98.
Franciscan Estate 2014 Magnificat, Napa Valley ($55) -- Franciscan's Magnificat has long been one of the more underrated red meritage wines from the Napa Valley, and the 2014 vintage is no exception. It is loaded with ripe dark-berry fruit that has enough oomph to handle the generous use of new oak. The bright side to this underrated gem is the price. It is every bit as good as many wines that sell for double what Magnificat fetches. Rating: 93.
Arrowood 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley ($40) -- The 2014 Arrowood cab delivers a huge burst of ripe blackberry and cassis fruit and has notes of wood vanillin. It is equipped with smooth, supple tannins that make for easy drinking now, although another two to four years in the cellar would benefit this wine tremendously. Rating: 92.
Jackson Estate 2014 Pinot Noir, Outland Ridge, Anderson Valley ($35) -- Jackson Estate's 2014 Outland Ridge is a meaty pinot noir from the Anderson Valley. Showing savory notes of wood smoke and somewhat rustic tannins, this wine is also packed with dark cherry and raspberry fruit. It drinks well now but will be best in another two to three years. Rating: 91.
La Crema 2015 Chardonnay, Kelli Ann Vineyard, Russian River Valley ($40) -- La Crema's Kelli Ann Vineyard chard embraces the new style that seems to be catching on throughout California. The wine is rich and oily, but not heavy, retaining the balance that chardonnay aficionados increasingly demand. This wine shows notes of lemon creme and pear, with a solid dose of wood spice. Rating: 90.