Wine doesn’t have to be expensive to deserve a spot in the cellar. Here are 19 great, affordable bottles that will get even better with a little time.
2006 Joseph Drouhin Domaine de Vaudon Chablis ($25)
Sourced from a single vineyard located between two premier cru Chablis appellations, this elegant white balances notes of flint and green apple against racy acidity (pictured, at right).
2005 Bernard Baudry Chinon Les Grézeaux ($26)
Baudry is among the best producers in France’s Chinon region, producing wines like this earthy-herbal Cabernet Franc, full of peppercorn spiciness and tart cherry-berry fruit.
2007 Domäne Wachau Grüner Veltliner Terrassen Federspiel ($16)
Domäne Wachau, a 600-member cooperative in Austria’s Wachau, farms one-third of the vineyards in the region. Its crisp entry-level Grüner Veltliner suggests fresh grapefruit zest with a touch of white pepper.
2007 Domaine des Aubuisières Cuvée de Silex Vouvray ($17)
From his limestone cellars in France’s Loire Valley, Bernard Fouquet makes many good wines, including this barely off-dry cuvée—full-bodied, silky and earthy, with notes of pear, orange, hay and stone.
2006 Angove’s Clare Valley Riesling ($18)
A vibrant, steely white from an Australian winery founded in 1886, this bottling shows all the hallmarks of dry Clare Valley Rieslings: stony minerality, fresh lemon-lime fruit, lively acidity and a mouthwatering finish.
2006 Hugel & Fils Riesling ($23)
The Hugel family—which has been producing white wine since the 1600s—buys grapes from dozens of vineyard sites around its hometown of Riquewihr, in France’s Alsace region, for this bracing, lime-scented, dry Riesling.
2006 Vincent Pouilly-Fuissé Marie-Antoinette ($24)
The stony soils of France’s Pouilly-Fuissé region give this racy, citrus-inflected Chardonnay firm acidity and clean mineral notes. Vincent has been one of the region’s top producers since the company was founded in 1864.
2006 Weingut Salomon Undhof Kögl Riesling ($26)
From a superb vintage in Austria, this taut, full-bodied, dry Riesling is wound tight as a clock spring right now. A year or two ought to enrich its citrus-green apple fruit without dimming any of the broken-stone minerality that makes it so compelling.
2006 Domaine d’Andezon Côtes-du-Rhône ($14)
The fruit from a small plot of 60-year-old Syrah vines forms the basis of this intense, lightly gamey red, its juicy dark-berry fruit supported by firm, gravelly tannins. The domaine itself lies amidst craggy hills on the edge of France’s Rhône Valley, southwest of Tavel and Lirac.
2006 Cono Sur Visión Cabernet Sauvignon ($15)
A hint of green peppercorn accents the red berry and currant fruit in this Cabernet from Chile’s Maipo Valley, one of the country’s top Cabernet-growing regions. Small percentages of Malbec, Syrah and Carmenère add spiciness to the finish.
2006 Domaine de Nidolères La Pierroune Côtes du Roussillon ($20)
Earthy and ripe, with good tannic grip, this blend of Syrah, Carignane and Grenache comes from a 123-acre, family-owned estate in France’s Côtes du Roussillon region that overlooks the Tech River.
2005 Domaine Cros de Romet Cairanne ($20)
Vigneron Alain Boisson established this small domaine in 2002, naming it for a lieu-dit (a small plot of land inside a larger appellation) in the village of Cairanne. No oak is used for this ebullient, gracefully structured blend of 80 percent Grenache and 20 percent Syrah, with ripe wild-berry flavors.
2006 Domaine des Schistes Côtes de Roussillon Villages Tradition ($21)
Blackberry and blueberry flavors supported by velvety, substantial tannins make this blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignane delicious right now, but it has the power to develop for several years as well. Grapes used in the blend originate entirely from vines that are at least 40 years old.
2005 Château Cap de Faugères ($23)
This streamlined Bordeaux comes from a vineyard in the up-and-coming Côtes de Castillon region, which wraps around the more famous St-Émilion appellation to the south and east. Primarily made from Merlot, it shows generous black cherry and currant flavors accented by an appealing dollop of spicy French oak.
2005 Clos du Bois Alexander Valley Reserve Merlot ($23)
Many California Merlots won’t improve with time, but this bottling from one of the state’s biggest wineries will. It balances rich blackberry and black cherry fruit against enough firm tannins and zesty acidity to give it the substance to develop over time.
2005 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva ($25)
The flavor of this red suggests the juicy pop of wild berries, with smoky oak and firm tannins supporting the ripe fruit. Monsanto, one of the most recognizable names in Italy’s Chianti Classico region, was one of the first producers there to fight against the requirement that white grapes be included in the Chianti blend—a battle that it won, much to the benefit of wine drinkers everywhere.
2006 MacMurray Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($25)
Actor Fred MacMurray purchased this Russian River Valley property in 1941, and later made wines from its grapes. Now it’s one of many brands owned by industry giant Gallo, producing a range of cool-climate wines. A star among the various bottlings is this aromatic, cherry-scented Pinot Noir, which is surprisingly good given the difficulties posed by the rainy 2006 vintage.
2005 Matanzas Creek Sonoma County Syrah ($25)
Longtime California producer Matanzas Creek is best known for its elegant Bennett Valley Merlot, but this savory, black-peppery Syrah is just as impressive. Its blackberry fruit and orange-peel acidity gain backbone from the inclusion of 14 percent Cabernet Sauvignon.
2006 J. Hofstätter Lagrein ($28)
Lagrein, a red grape variety native to northern Italy’s Alto Adige region, has a reputation for producing full-bodied yet lively wines with distinctive spice notes. This ’06 bottling from one of the region’s most respected producers is on the mark, its bright acidity giving focus to its plummy fruit.