We read the reports of wealthy collections slapping down hunks of change for California’s cult cabernet sauvignon-based wines: Shafer Hillside Select, Screaming Eagle, Colgin, Araujo, Bryant Family, Dalla Valle, Harlan Estate, Bond, Abreu and others. These wines cost $100 to $350 a bottle and fetch more at auction.

Add to that list Dominus, the Bordeaux-style wine overseen by Christian Moueix, owner and winemaker of legendary Chateau dominus1_01.jpg Petrus, in Bordeaux’s Pomerol region. Dominus was launched in 1982 as a partnership between Moueix and Robin Lail and Marcia Smith, the daughters of John Daniel, who owned Inglenook Vineyard, in the Napa Valley, during its greatest years of the 1940s through the end of the ’60s. It was a terrific pedigree, one over which Moueix, one of the world’s best winemakers, became sole proprietor in 1992. These are wines that possess infinite degrees of power and elegance and never see too much new oak. For 2004 Dominus is composed of 85 percent cabernet sauvignon, eight percent cabnernet franc and seven percent petit verdot. It spent 14 months in barrel. It retails for $113.

Moueix produces a second wine from the estate, Napanook, which for 2004 is blended from 83 percent cabernet sauvignon, nine percent cabernet franc, four percent petit verdot and one percent malbec. It also sees 14 months in barrel and costs $42.

Proceed, however, to the Carpe Diem Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Napa Valley. The blend here is 89 percent cabernet sauvignon, seven percent merlot, two percent cabernet franc and two percent petit verdot; the wine spent 12 months in oak. carpediem.jpg

Here’s the point. The Carpe Diem Cabernet ’05 was made under the direct supervision of Christian Moueix and his winemaking team; its grapes derive from the same estate that Moueix controls. It’s a superb Napa Valley cabernet, deep and rich, bursting with detail and broad with dimension, layered with smoke and spice and intense, concentrated yet generous cassis, black raspberry and black cherry fruit. It’s a wine of tremendous character, balance and poise that seems to change minute by minute in the glass, passing through infinitudes of seductive complexities. It is little short of a masterpiece and will drink well through 2012 to ’15. I rate it Excellent.

And the suggested retail price is $25. I have seen it priced on the Internet as low as $21.

Let the plutocrats drop hundreds of dollars on their cult cabernets, some of which cost for one bottle what you would happily spend on a case of Carpe Diem Cabernet 2005.