Five Great Value Wines:
2007 Kracher Pinot Gris Illmitz ($16)
This Austrian Pinot Gris from the late master Alois Kracher is surprisingly rich, with a wonderfully penetrating minerality. As restaurateur Phil Walters says, "It screams terroir."
2007 Cameron Hughes Lot 110 Carneros Pinot Noir ($18)
The near-global wine glut has helped producers like Cameron Hughes, who are procuring fruit from some very good (and very secret) sources in California. This bright, lively red has true Pinot character.
York Creek Cuvée One Red Wine ($15)
2007 Kogl Mea Culpa Sämling ($20)
I've been keen on Slovenian wines for a while now (they're on par with whites from Friuli in Italy, for half the price), but this crisp example really stands out. It has a nice floral nose and a firm, Chablis-like structure.
2006 Domaine Huet Vouvray Le Haut-Lieu Sec ($30)
This white wine from a top Loire Valley producer is beautifully balanced, with mouthwatering acidity and tantalizing notes of pear and spice.