THE RIGHT WINE--AT THE RIGHT PRICEGood value can be found at all levels, says a connoisseur
Should you bring along a $7 or $27 bottle of wine to that holiday party? And no matter what your price range, how can you find the best value? To get an idea, BUSINESS WEEK's Edward Baig spoke with Daniel Johnnes, wine director of New York's Montrachet restaurant and author of Daniel Johnnes's Top 200 Wines: An Expert's Guide To Maximum Enjoyment For Your Dollar ($14.95, Penguin Books).
Q: Your view of value includes expensive wines. Why?
Between $25 and $40, depending on the region and type, the price has no impact on quality. In that range, you can get, say, a $25 bottle of Spanish wine that will deliver as much complexity and depth of flavor as a $40 Bordeaux. If you were to compare a $15 bottle of wine against a $50 bottle, it gets easier to pick out the difference in quality. At $50, wines should have more concentrated flavors, persistence, and layers of aroma.
Q: What are some hot spots for finding terrific values?
Appellations such as the Coteaux de Languedoc, Corbieres, Faugeres, and the Vin de Pays from the Languedoc can be superb. They can range from $10 to $40. At the $40 level, you're getting truly magnificent wine. Good ones include Domaine de la Grange des Peres, Mas de Daumas Gassac, Mas Jullien, and Domaine d'Aupilhac.
The one thing to remember in any region is that you want to buy from the best producers. Vintage is irrelevant. Although the styles will change according to the vintage, with a good producer, the wines are going to be good every year.
An area a lot of people don't look at much is the central coast of California, south of San Francisco. In Santa Barbara county, look at the Santa Maria and Santa Ynez valleys, especially for pinot noir and chardonnay. Two other regions I think are great are Oregon, primarily for pinot noir, and Washington State, for cabernet and merlot.
Another country I'm hot on is Spain. Look in the Rioja and Navarra regions. Fine producers include Guelbenzu, Magana, and Vega Sindoa. Many are blends of garnacha and cabernet sauvignon. These are great wines for your money--anywhere from $5 to $20.
Q: How about the more expensive side?
Bordeaux always makes a good gift, and there's definitely a lot out there. Chateau Gruaud-Larose is one top red for a grand occasion. It costs in the range of $40.
Q: So, how can a novice find value?
EDITED BY AMY DUNKIN
Updated June 14, 1997 by bwwebmaster
Copyright 1996, Bloomberg L.P.