Sunday, March 29, 2009

Brooklynguy's $20 and Under Case

Call me crazy, but I don't see us climbing out of this recession any time soon. I think we have another two years of hard times ahead, maybe more. I'm trying to be prudent with the household finances, so I want to spend less money on wine. But I want to continue to drink fantastic wine. Sounds like I want my cake and to eat it too, but no - I think there are a lot of excellent wines in NYC retail shops that sell for $20 and under. Used to be $15 and under, but those are far fewer now than they were 5 years ago.

But here's the thing - when I say excellent wine, I really mean it. I mean wines that are compelling, that offer complexity and interest. Wines that I would confidently open for fellow wine lovers over for dinner. Excellent wines, wines that I feel great about buying now because they represent some of the best juice on the market at this price point.

Here is my "Best $20 and Under" case of wine, each wine available in NYC right now (hopefully elsewhere too). Not all of these can be found at the same store, I'm sorry to say, but I'm going for quality here, not convenience. These are all almost French wines because that's what I know, but there must be similarly excellent wines from Italy, Germany, Austria, and elsewhere. Please feel free to chime in with your suggestions.

Domaine de Montbourgeau Crémant du Jura, $20, Rosenthal Imports. Delicious and earthy Blanc de Blancs. Give it some air and watch it expand.

2007 Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie Clos des Briords, $16, Louis/Dressner Selections. Sharp and vibrant old vines Muscadet from one of the top producers, and this vintage seems like it will be one of the better ones in recent years. I've heard several people who know an awful lot about wine say that this is the finest value in the entire world of wine.

2007 Gilbert Picq Chablis, $20, Polaner Imports. 2007 is a return to Chablis in Chablis - the wines will speak of the sea shells and iodine, brine and minerals. This wine has ripe fruit too, and is quite the elegant little package. I will say this, though: for an extra $4 you can buy the 2007 Picq Chablis Vieille Vignes, which is a tremendous step up, and I bet will improve for a decade minimum, should you be the patient type.

NV Audrey & Christian Binner Saveurs Printanières, $17, Jenny & François Selections. This is a bone dry blend of white Alsace grapes, and it is ripe, herbal, and completely delicious. For about $22 you can buy the 2004 Binner Reisling Katzenthal, which is a big step up for your 5 bucks. That wine is drinking beautifully right now too.

2007 Domaine de la Sauveuse Cuvée Carolle, $18, Imported by Vintage Trading, Inc. A beautiful wine from the Côte de Provence, a blend of 85% Rolle (that's Vermentino to you Italo-philes) and 15% Ugni-Blanc (that's Trebbiano to you Italo-philes). Made in an oxidative style, this wine is full of orange fruit, and feels fresh and minty. Great acidity balances the rich flavors. If this wine were from someplace famous like Burgundy it would cost $50.

2007 François Pinon Vouvray Tradition, $20, Louis/Dressner Selections. This is a blend from several parcels on mostly clay soils and the wine is round and rich, with a bit of residual sugar. I prefer the 2007 to any recent vintage, as it has great acidity and balance, and the flavors are absolutely fresh and clean. I'm going to wait a few months before opening mine, although you could wait 8 years if you like. You could also spend $24 and get Pinon's 2007 Vouvray Silex Noir, a drier and more elegant wine. One is not better than the other - different styles.

2007 Michel Tête Juliénas, $20, Louis/Dressner Selections. It's been a while since I've liked this wine as much as some of the others in the impressive Dressner Beaujolais stable, but the 2007 is a truly lovely wine. Fresh, ripe, snappy, just a great Beaujolais.

2006 Weinhof Scheu Spätburgunder, $18, Savio Soares Selections. In my book, this is the truest and best Pinot Noir on the market right now for $20 or less. Fresh and pure, and on the lighter side of the Pinot spectrum, this wine will surprise you with its grace and hold your interest with its deliciousness.

2007 Bernard Baudry Chinon Les Granges, $18, Louis/Dressner Selections. Baudry is the reference point for Chinon. This is the "entry level" wine, which is a joke because it is a complete wine, ripe, complex, cellar-worthy. Versatile too - this works just as well with hearty vegetable soup as it does with roast beef. I don't even want to discuss the other Baudry 2007's here, because I don't want to get you all worked up.

2005 Domaine Rimbert Mas au Schiste, $20, Jenny & François Selections. A blend of old vines Carignan (is there a more under-rated grape?), Syrah, and Grenache. This wine floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee. I love this wine, plain and simple. Great definition and clarity for a full bodied wine from the Roussillan, with a lovely perfume of ripe fruit and lots of interesting mineral and soil tones. This wine ages well too. For $14 you can get the 2007 Domaine Rimbert Travers de Marceau, a less intense and complex, but also very delicious wine that omits the Grenache and includes Cinsault and a little bit of Mourvedre.

2006 Mas des Chimeres Coteaux du Languedoc, $20, Louis/Dressner Selections. 75% Syrah, some Grenache, Cinsault, and Mourvedre make up the balance. Classic peppery and meaty Syrah, with good energy and balance. A wine for Boudin Noir, ribeye steak, grilled portobello mushrooms, and things like that.

You may have noticed that there are only 11 wines in this case. It's recession - 11 is the new 12.


Weston said...

the opposite of a bakers dozen? the "Recession Dozen" eh? hah

c said...

I am straight crazy for the 2007 d'Oupia Minervois for $12. Lost a bit of its oomph overnight but man does it drink beautifully the first night.

Also flipped for the 2006 Dom. de la Chanteleuserie Bourgueil from Kermit Lynch. Beautiful at $18.

THanks for the post

Vinogirl said...

If you worked at a winery you'd get at least 33% inter-winery discount. Thank goodness I can afford to drink great wine because of an industry discount.

Gene said...

Hear hear on the Mas au Schiste. Was not expecting much, but the woman at Astor who recommended this, definitely earned her pay that evening!

Lyle Fass said...

Nice case. Still get a 10% discount on 11?

Don't tell anyone but I've almost given up on Raveneau and always turn to Picq as I believe it is more terroir expressive, a better value, and is light. Raveneau ain't light, and not to pick on him or anything, these days he offers horrible QPR and I think Picq is much more authentic Chablis.

The Ugni Blanc blend sounds cool. Where did you get that?

And always nice to see cheap Spatburgunder . . .

Brooklynguy said...

i got the ugni blanc at a store you may have heard of Lyle, called Chambers Street Wines.

i am so curious to know whether or not you would like this Spatburgunder, as i know you like a good spatburgunder.

Lyle Fass said...

Inexpensive Spatburgunder is hard to find but the one good one I had under $20 was the Becker from the town of Schweigen on the Pfalz/Alsace border. I like Scheu's Weissburgunder so I would give this a shot.

Gotta try the Ugni Blanc. CSW...never heard of.

Lenn Thompson | said...

Would be an even better post (it's great) if you told us where in NYC we could get this stuff.

I'll tell you this...I doubt that I can on Long Island.

Brooklynguy said...

hey lenn - i didn't include stores only because it seems unfair to single out one store if there are others that also carry the wine. i tend to shop at Chambers Street, Astor, Slope Cellars, and Fermented Grapes. These wines are available at those stores,not all wines at each store though. There are surely other stores that carry them too. If you want info on a specific wine let me know and i'll tell you.

Anonymous said...

btw has been shot down from supermarkets/grocery stores in NYS...thanks to a group called the Last Store on Main Street. Thank God!!!!!!!