Chardonnay is easy to come by—it’s our most popular wine by a wide margin. But don’t say, “I’ll have a glass of Chardonnay,” unless you mean it—and make sure that glass earned gold. Life’s too short to dip into a sea of unremarkable Chard.
Scott Family 2014 Dijon Clone Chardonnay (Arroyo Seco, Monterey; $25)
Trione Vineyards & Winery 2014 River Road Ranch Chardonnay (Russian River Valley, Sonoma County; $36)
2 of 7
Be a smart Cabernet shopper
The king of reds still reigns (we drink more Cabernet Sauvignon than any other red)—and Napa Valley holds court. But other regions in California and Washington are going head-to-head with Napa’s high-scoring Cabs, and many are great values. Our judges also discovered that, even in Napa, you don’t have to empty your wallet to taste a gold medal winner.
Katherine Goldschmidt 2013 Crazy Creek Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley; $22)
Mettler Family 2013 Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon (Lodi; $25)
More Videos From Sunset
3 of 7
Mix it up with some imports
Understatement of the year: The West Coast delivers no shortage of great bottles. But other promising wines are becoming increasingly available. Our competition uncovered terrific sips from the Old World and the New beyond the West.
Dunham 2014 Lewis Estate Vineyard Riesling (Columbia Valley; $20)
5 of 7
The weeknight splurge
Most of us can go a long time without dropping a hundred bucks on a bottle of wine. But what if Thursday night needs a little love? Punch your price just above $40, and you’ll find an enormous range of high-scoring gems.