Great Everyday Wines at Great Prices: Wine Producers to Rely On
Ever feel oenologically challenged? You’re not alone. There are some 35,000 wines available in the US. Wine megastores carry as many as 12,000 of them! Although the typical wine shop is much more navigable, it too offers more choices than most of us can fathom. Fortunately, there are methods to manage the madness. Choosing wines can be simple if you rely on certain consistent, readily available wine “families.” Here are ten of the best that produce easy-to-find, good-value, well-made wines that cost $15 or (often a lot) less.* They’re perfect to enjoy everyday, to use as your house wine and for casual entertaining.
For versatile, reasonably priced French wines, Georges Duboeuf is the name to know. His wines are the No. 1 French wine imports, and he’s Beaujolais’ leading négociant, a merchant who buys, blends and bottles wine. Because Duboeuf dominates the region and produces scores of reasonably priced, high-quality wines, he’s called the King of Beaujolais.
Born into a wine-growing family, Duboeuf got his start in the business at age six, when he cranked the manual crusher in the family vineyards. As a young man, he sold his family’s wines from the back of his bicycle to local chefs. In 1964 he was ready to found his own company, Les Vins Georges Duboeuf.
There are four levels of Beaujolais, made from the Gamay grape. Duboeuf popularized Beaujolais Nouveau with a brilliant marketing campaign: Its release each November is celebrated worldwide. Made immediately after the harvest, Beaujolais Nouveau is meant to be drunk within months. Simple Beaujolais can come from anyplace in the region. Beaujolais-Villages, a step up, comes from 39 designated communes. Best of all are the cru Beaujolais, from 10 approved sites. Duboeuf’s most popular are Fleurie, Brouilly, Régnié, Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent. The others are Chenas, Chiroubles, Côte de Brouilly, Juliénas and Saint-Amour. Two kinds of labels appear on these cru wines: the famed flower labels adorn wines blended from a number of growers; the more traditional labels indicate single-vineyard wines. Duboeuf has ventured into other regions (the Rhône Valley and the Languedoc among them) and in 2003 opened a state-of-the-art wine-making facility. One could say that Duboeuf’s wines are France’s gift to the US second only to the Statue of Liberty. Prices start at $8 and rarely exceed $15, with many wines $10 to $12.
Bottom line: A bevy of wonderful (mostly) red wines that should appeal even to white-wine fans. (www.duboeuf.com [in French], www.winewithoutrules.com [Beaujolais Nouveau])