Winning wines from celebratory splurges to the everyday table.
Whether you need some new bottles to stock your wine cooler, or you are ready to start a serious collection, making a wine purchase can come with its own blend of anxiety. Finding balance between price and taste is a key concern. With a plethora of wines that offer a good value and plenty that make spending more worth it, local wine and spirit shops offer an easy place to ask for recommendations to make the most of the fall harvest. Vinay Ramakrishna, CSW, manager at Johns Creek Wine & Crystal, and Warren Dennis, the official wine man at Pop’s! Wine & Spirits, share some of their favorite bottles for any budget.
With so many Chardonnays to choose from, narrowing the list to one great, well-priced selection offers a challenge. Ramakrishna suggests Mossback, a Russian River Chardonnay, for its oaky and buttery flavor – a cheerful wine usually priced below $20.
Moving beyond Chardonnay’s popularity, the Napa Valley Silver Spur Sauvignon Blanc has flavors of tropical fruits like pineapple, as well as nectarine and honeydew. This white wine from Jamieson Ranch Vineyards can pair well with light entrées like fish and pasta.
One cannot talk white without mentioning a good sparkling wine that delivers bubbles without the high price tag. One go-to option in this category is La Marca Prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine with fruitier notes and lighter bubbles than its typically costlier French counterpart.
Napa Valley delivers with the Newtown Unfiltered Chardonnay. Skipping the act of removing tiny particles produces a wine that is less clear, but some say unfiltered wines retain more flavor, and in the case of this Chardonnay, that would be a handful of fruits and a smoky complexity.
Located in the southern part of Burgundy, the Pouilly-Fuissé appellation for white wine features Chardonnay grapes. Château-Fuissé’s Tête de Cru is perfectly blended from many areas of the appellation’s vineyards and is aged in oak and stainless steel.
“French Champagne is absolutely the best sparkling wine in the world,” says Dennis. “They just taste better than bubbly from anywhere else.” A great high-end option right now is Veuve Clicquot’s La Grande Dame 2006.
In the $20 range, there are plenty of good values in Cabernet Sauvignon, one of which is BV Rutherford.
Staying cost-conscious does not rule out French wines. Consider Côtes du Rhône appellations, specifically Gigondas and Lirac, which are near the expensive Châteauneuf-du-Pape cru but offer good wines at half of the price. Dennis recommends a bottle of Notre Dame de Cousignac Lirac.
Spanish wines can be terrific for the money, according to Ramakrishna. These “hidden treasures” include the Tres Picos Garnacha, which is fruit-forward with a bit of oak and spiciness, along with a hint of green bell pepper.
From Tuck Beckstoffer Wines, Mockingbird is a Cabernet Sauvignon-based Bordeaux that was named for Harper Lee’s acclaimed book.
Currently available in the 2014 vintage, Opus One is one of “the most unbelievable wines you can buy for your money,” according to Ramakrishna.
A Rhone Valley cru, Châteauneuf-du-Pape got its name from a time in the Middle Ages when the papacy relocated to Avignon and fortunately for the world’s future oenophiles, planted vineyards. Because the best wines grow in infertile soil, according to Dennis, the area’s river-rock-laden topsoil proved ideal. While Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines like Château de Beaucastel carry a bigger price tag, they are well worth it.
Pop’s! Wine & Spirits
3121 Peachtree Parkway
Johns Creek Wine & Crystal
9810 Medlock Bridge Rd. #700