There comes a time in every staff tasting at KLWM when, having tasted a newly arrived wine, someone asks for the price. The figure is located and called out, and everyone around the table smiles or laughs, shaking their head in disbelief. This ritual is the shared recognition of what I’ll call an overachiever—a wine that delivers the kind of elegance, complexity, or flat-out deliciousness regularly displayed by bottles much more expensive. After much debate, and many picks left out, we have put together a collection of overachievers for you. Many factors go into producing such a bottle of wine. Maybe the domaine that made it experienced a particularly stellar vintage (See: Sesti’s 2015 Brunello di Montalcino). Or maybe it comes from an arbitrarily overlooked region, like Chignin in Savoie, the source of Quenard’s luscious old-vine blanc. It could be that the wine comes from a rising star domaine whose quality still precedes its reputation, like Domaine Lavantureux, whose Chablis cuvées are on par with the best in the village even though they aren’t priced that way. And, every now and then, the remarkable value is the result of generosity on the part of the vigneron. Take Domaine de Terrebrune’s Vin de Pays, for instance, which is made with fruit that could qualify for AOC Bandol, but which Reynald Delille bottled separately because he considers those vines still too young for the Bandol bottling of his high standards. This is a phenomenal wine from the same terroir and blend as his Bandol, but it’s basically half the price. The list of factors goes on and our list of overachievers could, too. 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 $12 to $120, as these wines resoundingly show.
Sesti Italy | Tuscany | Toscana IGT
Succulent and tightly coiled, with a beautifully integrated tannin and outstanding finesse, this “baby Brunello” punches way above its weight and will serve you well again and again!
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.
Domaine Les Pallières France | Southern Rhône | Gigondas
If you’re familiar with the wines of Vieux Télégraphe, you know that grapes in the hands of the Brunier brothers are treated respectfully to coax nuance and finesse.
Domaine Pierre Guillemot France | Burgundy | Savigny-aux-Serpentières
One of the world’s greatest red Burgundy values, with a track record that would make many grands crus jealous, this is the Guillemot family’s flagship bottling.
Domaine Follin-Arbelet France | Burgundy | Aloxe-Corton
This rouge—a blend of fruit from two parcels that abut premier cru vineyards—delivers such finesse and pleasure that it makes you wonder why this village isn’t mentioned more often in the same breath as Volnay, Gevrey-Chambertin, and Nuits-Saint-Georges.
Domaine Pierre Guillemot France | Burgundy | Corton Grand Cru
Open now if you would like to taste its youthful magic, but don’t miss the transcendent reward of popping the cork in ten to fifteen years.
Comtesse de Chérisey France | Burgundy | Meursault-Blagny
A regal and refined Chardonnay whose chiseled, flinty frame bespeaks its terroir and the Martelets’ devotion to making fresh, mineral, and age-worthy whites.
Of course, another reason to be cheerful is our annual Champagne Sale, always offered during this month of celebration, to help add POP to your revelry. Pour Champagne and share a moment of respite, a chance for all to say, “Life is good!” Champagne in your glass gives you a good reason to believe that.
Château Thivin has toiled tirelessly in defense of the region’s singular terroirs. Surrounding the elegant 14th century Château, twisted stumps of ancient Gamay dot the Côte de Brouilly’s perilous rubbly inclines like gnomes, creating a consummate marriage of grape and soil with absolutely nothing to envy of the great appellations of Burgundy or the Rhône.
Many of our best values, all in one place for your browsing pleasure: bargain whites, rosés, reds, and even a couple of sparklers, made by real people and reefer-shipped so they arrive in your hands in nothing less than perfect condition.
The list of factors goes on and our list of overachievers could, too. 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 $12 to $120, as these wines resoundingly show.
It’s as if the fossil-laden chalky soil running through Chablis has helped create a wine that is a visceral reminder of our amphibian past, with its bracing smell of waterfalls and oncoming rain, wet stone and coastal citrus groves. Briny, crisp, chiseled, and mouthwatering, it refreshes and invigorates.
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