Affordable Wines, Picked By the Pros

By Jacqueline Barba

Published on August 1, 2009

In "The Believers" (April 2009, Issue #119) wine guru Alice Feiring talks with six of the country's most innovative sommeliers and restaurateurs about the inspiration behind their creative wine lists. Here they share their favorite bottles for under $50.

Lou Amdur (Owner, Lou, Hollywood, California)

Guy Breton Morgon Vieilles Vignes, 2006—"A cru beaujolais made with organically grown fruit. A bit of earthy funk on the nose, wrapped in layers of ethereal fruit. This light, medium-bodied red has a seductive texture and is great served slightly cool." $30.00; http://www.kermitlynch.com

D. Ventura "Viña Caneiro", 2006—"This wine hails from a region in northwestern Spain that has a long tradition of growing grapes but has been making quality wine for only about a decade. Made from 80-year-old Mencia vines, it's an honest red wine—medium-bodied, full of cranberries, and very vibrant." $26.00; http://www.demaisonselections.com

Stadlmann Zierfandler "Mandel Hoh", 2006—"Zierfandler is a variety that Austrians often use as a blending grape to produce a light, summertime white wine. Here, it becomes something else altogether: a wine with refreshing acidity but one that is also fleshy, concentrated, and pineapple-y." $31.00; http://www.theageofriesling.com

Kathy Bergin (Owner, 3 Doors Down Cafe, Portland, Oregon)

Domaine Philippe Balivet Bugey Cerdon Methode Ancestrale, Savoie, NV—"This fresh, sparkling rose is strawberry in color and delicately sweet but not cloying. Our guests enjoy it with appetizers, cheeses and desserts. This can easily become a cult wine." $23.99; http://www.duvinfinewines.com

Ayres Vineyard Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, 2007—"This wine is a great example of pure Oregon pinot noir fruit, even in a vintage many consider difficult. It has earthy, cinnamon undertones, a dark cherry midpalate flavor, and a long finish. The acids are lively, and the oak is well integrated." $21.95; http://www.avalonwine.com

Mark Ellenbogen (Wine Director, The Slanted Door, San Francisco, California)

Julien Fouet Cremant de Loire, NV—"This lovely pink sparkler made from organically farmed cabernet franc is a very well balanced alternative to champagne at a fraction of the price." $22.00; http://winewise.biz

Domaine Bott-Geyl "Les Élements" Riesling, 2007—"A biodynamically farmed riesling from Alsace, this dry wine has floral and citrus notes and is perfect with classic dishes like choucroute garnie." $21.00; http://www.beauneimports.com

Paul Grieco (Wine Director/Owner, Insieme, Hearth, and Terroir, New York City)

Col Vetoraz Prosecco, Di Valdobbiadene Brut, NV—"This 100 percent prosecco from the Veneto region of Italy is insanely yummy. Moderate acidity, with hints of peaches and apricots." $18.50; http://www.vestrywine.com

Cederberg Wine Cellars Bukettraube, 2008—"Light and fresh, with a hint of residual sugar, this South African white wine has a great, focused acidity." $14.19; http://www.snooth.com

Domaine de Piaugier Sablet, 2005—"A red wine from the southern Rhone Valley, the Domaine de Piaugier Sablet is medium-weight, dry, and fruit driven, with a modicum of beautiful, funky earth." $17.99; http://www.astorwines.com

Roberto Paris (Wine Director, Il Buco, New York City)

Feudo Montoni Nero d'Avola, 2005—"This Sicilian red wine embodies the true expression of land and grape. It's packed with the intense, clean aroma of cherries, plums, and dark berries." $18.00; http://www.selectedestates.com

Castello di Ama Rosato, 2007—"Some winemakers think it's crazy to use their best grapes for a rose. Not at Castello di Ama, where, in my opinion, they make the best rose in all of Italy. Using sangiovese grapes, they create a wine that is full-bodied yet fragrant, fresh, and delicate." $18.00; http://www.martinscottwines.com

Canevel Prosecco di Valdobbiadene, NV —"Who doesn't know prosecco nowadays? The real task is to find one that evokes its region. This prosecco from the Veneto fits that profile. Creamy in texture, with apples and fresh flowers on the nose." $18.00; http://www.selectedestates.com

Rajat Parr (Wine Director, Mina Group Restaurants)

Alondra Chardonnay "Middleridge Ranch Vineyard", 2007—"A fresh and crisp Chardonnay from Mendocino that has been fermented in stainless steel and is layered with pear- and apple-like flavors. A beautiful accompaniment to light shellfish dishes." $16.00; http://www.skylarkwine.com

Hirsch Estate "The Bohan Dillon" Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 2007—"A pure expression of pinot noir, with delicate cherry and cola flavors. Thanks to Sonoma's cool climate and varied soil type, this wine has a great acid and fruit balance. It reminds me of a village wine from Burgundy." $29.99; http://www.klwines.com

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