Domaine de la Cadette's vineyards in Vézelay, Burgundy
Overachievers at Every Price
by Tom Wolf
I recently brought a bottle of Valentin Montanet’s gorgeous Bourgogne rouge “Champs Cadet” to a small gathering and it didn’t take long for me to realize I should have brought two. With soaring aromas of red berries, a hint of black tea, and spices, this young Pinot Noir was so expressive, flaunting a heightened freshness and unshackled joie de vivre that stand out in this often meditative and noble region. I had forgotten the price, but when I went to purchase more, I couldn’t help but smile at the tag. For $42, you’d be hard pressed to find a more pure, joyous, and versatile red Burgundy than this. This kind of “overachiever”—a wine that delivers the elegance, complexity, or flat-out deliciousness regularly displayed by bottles much more expensive—isn’t limited to any price category. My colleagues and I have been as enamored in recent months with $19 Dolcetto from northwestern Italy as we have with soulful grand cru Saint-Émilion. We have found outstanding class in a sparkling wine from an off-the-beaten-path French village in the Alps as well as in Brunello di Montalcino from a young grower brand new to our portfolio. After much debate, and many picks left out, we have put together a collection of overachievers for you. For now, we’ve narrowed down our selections to twenty-four wines—four each at six price points, because tremendous value isn’t exclusive to inexpensive bottlings. You can find it at all prices, from $14 to $100 and even above, as these wines resoundingly show.
Selected by Kermit Lynch France | Southern Rhône
Hailing from a parcel of co-planted vines adjacent to the family home, these varieties were planted together with the express purpose of making the house rouge, the everyday vibrant and juicy drink you’d bring to the table in a jug and drink out of a cup.
Corte Gardoni Italy | Veneto | Corvina Veronese IGT
At Corte Gardoni they believe in pure Corvina, putting the best aside for their Becco Rosso. Vibrant and faultlessly refreshing, this bottling has also been known to resemble much pricier Burgundy with some bottle age.
Quentin Harel France | Beaujolais | Morgon
This Morgon comes largely from a parcel of 80-year-old vines lies in the lieu-dit Charmes, a higher-altitude site prone to giving lively, elegant, and mineral reds.
Domaine Roland Lavantureux France | Burgundy | Chablis
Everything about this cuvée, from the delicately briny scent of slick oyster shells to the concentrated, pristinely focused sensation on the palate, is a demonstration of why this domaine has become one of Chablis’ very best.
Kuentz-Bas France | Alsace | Alsace Grand Cru
Spend a minute or two trying to describe the palate: I’ll propose voluptuous, finesse, ampleur. Maybe simply grand cru says it—a privileged site for Riesling!
Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe France | Southern Rhône | Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Here at KLWM we’ve been referring to this cuvée as the Bruniers’ young-vine Châteauneuf for so long that those vines have gone and grown up right under our noses.
A. & G. Fantino Italy | Piedmont | Barolo
Ripe, deep, and almost extravagant in its breadth of aroma and flavor, while a dense, tightly knit core of firm acidity and fine-grained tannins make up a rigid spine.
Domaine Follin-Arbelet France | Burgundy | Aloxe-Corton
The Follin family’s 2019 reds are some of the most delicious of the vintage I have tasted, none more so than their incredibly vibrant and pure Aloxe-Corton.
Domaine de Villaine France | Burgundy | Rully
Rabourcé is considered one of the top premiers crus in Rully. Its old vines sit on a steep clay and limestone slope and yield a complex, powerful white Burgundy.
Château Tertre de la Mouleyre France | Bordeaux | St-Émilion Grand Cru
Crafted from less than two hectares of organic grapes and vinified in a cramped garage, this is silky Saint-Emilion at its most seductive.
Guido Porro Italy | Piedmont | Barolo
A few years ago, Guido seized an opportunity to farm a tiny sliver of Serralunga’s historic Vigna Rionda vineyard. He paid dearly for half an hectare of what is the Romanée-Conti of Serralunga, and his rendition of this hallowed site is worth every cent. This is a masterpiece...
This kind of “overachiever”—a wine that delivers the elegance, complexity, or flat-out deliciousness regularly displayed by bottles much more expensive—isn’t limited to any price category. My colleagues and I have been as enamored in recent months with $19 Dolcetto from northwestern Italy as we have with soulful grand cru Saint-Émilion.
The only thing we like better than great wine is great wine that doesn’t cost much and we’re happy to report that a bottle of great wine can still be found for $20 or less. We’ve put together a collection of our favorites all in one place for your browsing pleasure: bargain whites, rosés, reds, and a couple of sparklers.
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