Ferocious Value Wines
This week we have four inexpensive gems to feature; In their respective categories, it'll be hard to find wines to beat these little tigers. Fierce competitors we believe these bottles to be, and tough to find a better value for the money.
Domaine Gueguen Chablis 2018
Yes, this is estate-grown Chablis from one of the region's most experienced winemakers for for a song. Frederic Gueguen began working in the vineyards of Chablis at the age of 12, and after finishing a degree in viticulture worked as winemaker for Jean Durup and then Jean Marc Brocard. Since 2013, Frederic has worked his own estate vines with his wife Celine, and their wines have consistently represented not only some of the finest values in the region, but also some of the most delicious Chablis you will find. None of Domaine Gueguen's wines see any oak, everything is aged in stainless steel tanks. The resulting wines are clear and crystalline expressions of Chardonnay. We cannot recommend them highly enough. This 2018 Chablis is pure delight, with ripe citrus at the fore, a mineral infused finish, and loads of intrigue in the middle; it is a must-try for lovers and haters of Chardonnay alike.
Georg Albrecht Schneider Niersteiner Sauvignon Blanc 2018
This one came as a bit of a surprise. Excellent German Sauvignon is a thing, but it tends to be a little pricey. We were thus quite pleased with this little beauty, a gorgeous example of cool-climate Sauvignon from a warm vintage. Notes of passionfruit and lime are exuberant on the nose, this is a wine for the devotee of Marlborough (New Zealand's major region for Sauvignon). Its aromas are flamboyantly fruity, but on the palate it turns fresh, and finishes clean and crisp, with a minerality that is almost salty, the perfect juxtaposition to its intense fruitiness.
G.D. Vajra Langhe Rosso 2017
The Vaira family's Langhe Rosso is tried and true, a complex and serious blend from one of Italy's most talented winegrowing families. A blend of the three major red grapes of Piemonte (Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto) with some rarities (Freisa and Albarossa), this wine is built for immediate pleasure, and it delivers, no matter the vintage. The 2017 vintage in Piemonte was prodigious; with hot and sunny weather throughout the growing season, harvest was early, but the grapes were ripe, concentrated and healthy. The 2017 Vajra Langhe Rosso is a juicy and spicy red, with lots of red and blue fruit character highlighted by hints of roses and licorice. It is plush and firm at once, with the soft fruitiness of Barbera and Dolcetto offset by the clout of Nebbiolo's tannins. The balance of this wine is impeccable, it will be a great match for so many meals, you might consider keeping a stash around for the impromptu pizza or past dinner.
Valravn Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 This is the first vintage for Valravn's Cabernet Sauvignon and we're not sure there's much room for improvement. For sake of the 2018 vintage, we really hope there is, but we were simply smitten with this fabulous 2017, a California Cabernet Sauvignon that over-delivers. Sourced from the Alexander Valley, Moon Mountain and Russian River AVAs, Valravn does not name the vineyard sites, but they obviously got some amazing fruit. There is a savory side to this wine that is reminiscent of Bordeaux, but the fruitiness here is so very California. Fermented in stainless steel tanks before spending 16 months in oak barrels (50% new), it exhibits a classic profile: blackcurrant, dark cherry, strawberry, watermelon rind, cigar box and toasty mocha. Bright and juicy, it is a refreshing style for California, but it hits the dark and rich notes that a connoisseur of cab will be looking for. It is killer juice and it tastes like it could be $50+. You'll want to drink some now with steak, but you might also want to sock some away for a few years as a surprise to your future wine-loving self.