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.
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.
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...
There has never been a better time to be a rosé lover. Far from a single profile of wine, rosé is a big, beautiful umbrella encompassing all kinds of styles and with hues ranging from faint rose-gold to light burgundy. Consider Domaine de Reuilly’s Pinot Gris, which blurs the line between blanc and rosé so expertly you can’t help but go back to your glass to ponder it again and again.
Our first-ever foray into the heel of the Italian boot might not be what you expect. It certainly wasn’t what I expected! I discovered a terroir perfectly suited to producing dry, aromatic white wines of character and freshness. Puglia is the likely birthplace of Italian wine (and, as follows, French wine!), with the vine originally traveling here via Greek settlers who crossed the Adriatic channel. Today it is the second-largest producer of wine out of Italy’s twenty regions. While the region is best known for inky, concentrated reds from grapes such as Primitivo and Negroamaro, the first KLWM Puglian imports are in fact white wines.
This collection includes a set of two bottlings (one for now, one for later) from six regions: Chardonnay from Burgundy, Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley, Marsanne from northern Rhône, Gamay from Beaujolais, Nebbiolo from Piedmont, and Sangiovese from Tuscany. While every bottle is enjoyable right now, each set features one example meant for immediate consumption and one capable of significant aging.
Today marks a new tradition here at KLWM, and it’s a collaboration of sorts with you, our loyal customers. Diving into a range of categories spanning color, style, producer, and region, we reviewed the year in wine and are eager to share the selections that seemed to strike your collective fancy. These are wines that were enjoyed in abundance, revisited time and again, and kept so many tables decorated and glasses filled in 2022.
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.
Chardonnay is a remarkable chameleon—it has the keen ability to reflect the micro-nuances of the environment in which it’s grown. Today, we’re celebrating its versatility with a collection of wines from not only Burgundy, but Jura, Champagne, the Loire, and as far east as the Italian alps. While the common thread that holds this collection together gives us a medley of racy, bright, and mineral whites, there’s a fascinating world of difference between each bottle selected.
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