Exceptional wines for less than 150 bucks.

Wine, beer, and other potent potables.
June 18 2008 12:56 PM

Great Wine Bargains

Exceptional bottles for less than 150 bucks.

In the first installment of this series, Mike Steinberger sought out great wines that cost less than 15 bucksSteinberger chatted online with readers about this article; read the transcript.

(Continued from Page 1)

Domaine Vincent Dauvissat Chablis Les Preuses. A grand cru Chablis and as pure and delicious a chardonnay (the Chablis region's signature grape) as you can find. Dauvissat is, along with Domaine François Raveneau, one of two leading Chablis producers. (This being viticultural France, the Dauvissats and Raveneaus are cousins, naturally.) Prices for Raveneau have exploded in recent years, and Dauvissat's other grand cru, the more famous Les Clos, is showing signs of the same. But the Preuses, which I think is as good as the Clos and sometimes better, has stayed remarkably affordable, if not exactly cheap, for a white Burgundy of this caliber: Around $80-$100 per bottle. (Note: Vincent Dauvissat's wines are available in some places under the label Dauvissat-Camus. Further note: Domaine Vincent Dauvissat is not to be confused with Domaine Jean et Sébastian Dauvissat, whose wines are also sold in the United States but are not as good.)

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs. An elegant all-chardonnay bubbly that for half a century has represented the apotheosis of champagne. It is a wine that inhabits the same rarified space as Krug, Salon, Roederer Cristal, and Dom Pérignon, and it generally sells for substantially less money. The blindingly good 1996 Comtes, for instance, can still be found for less than $150, a steal compared to the '96 Krug, Cristal, Salon, and Dom, all of which are pushing, or have topped, $300 a bottle.

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Domaine Pierre Matrot Meursault-Perrières. This is a "sleeper" pick: The Matrot is not as well-known as these other wines, and some critics don't seem to like it quite as much as I do. It is a white Burgundy from a premier cru vineyard in the village of Meursault, Les Perrières, that many aficionados believe yields grand cru-quality wines. Matrot's Perrières is overshadowed by the versions from Coche-Dury, Lafon, and Roulot, Meursault's most celebrated producers. But the Matrot Perrières can hold its own against those wines, and it trades at such a deep discount to them—$65 for the 2005 versus more than $1,500 for the Coche, $500 or more for the Lafon, and at least $300 for the Roulot—that I decided to include it here.

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Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape. An atypical Châteaneuf-du-Pape, in that it contains a hefty amount of Mourvèdre, but also one of the best. The Châteauneuf appellation is overrun these days with prestige cuvées, wines produced in small quantities that often sell for hundreds of dollars a bottle. Beaucastel makes one, the Hommage à Jacques Perrin, which goes for prices ranging from $350 to $500. But, in my opinion, those wines have nothing on the regular Beaucastel Châteauneuf, which can be found for $75 to $100 and offers lots of sun-splashed pleasure but also all the complexity and verve of a great Bordeaux or Burgundy.

Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port. Taylor is a name that is virtually synonymous with Port. The list of legendary Taylor vintages is epic: 1896, 1912, 1927, 1935, 1945, 1948, 1963 … you get the idea. No vintage port—not even the mythical Quinta do Noval Nacional, which will set you back at least $500—has hit the bull's-eye more often. The Taylor currently sells for $75 to $100 a bottle—not bad for a (fortified) wine that rolls with the likes of Haut-Brion, Yquem, and Romanée-Conti.

Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello CabernetSauvignon. The iconic American wine, produced in the Santa Cruz Mountains above Silicon Valley, and the one California cabernet that can unquestionably hold its own against the best of Bordeaux and has proved it time and again in blind tastings. Depending on the vintage and the store, the Monte Bello sells for between $90 and $150 a bottle, compared with more than $1,000 for the Bordeaux First Growths (the 2005s, anyway, save Mouton Rothschild) and upward of $500 for some Napa Valley cabernets that don't come close to matching the Monte Bello's track record. Sooner or later, the market is going to realize there is something wrong with this picture. My advice: Buy now.

Giuseppe e Figlio Mascarello Barolo Monprivato. For the quality it offers and the price it fetches, this is arguably the greatest high-end wine value in the world. The Monprivato vineyard, owned exclusively by Mauro Mascarello, is a legendary site in Italy's Piedmont region, and it yields a consistently wondrous Barolo that is all the more appealing for being so cheap: It sells for $70 to $90 a bottle, which is easily half the price that the top wines from Giacosa and Gaja, two other Piedmont heavyweights, now command. Here, too, for reasons that are inexplicable, the market is giving us a gift.

For an idea of what you can expect from these wines, here are some tasting notes. And where can you buy them? If you consult Wine-searcher.com, you can find locations for both current vintages and older ones. Just one favor to ask: Leave a few bottles for me.

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