You know the situation: trying to find a wine that could be opened for any daily occasion and meeting the inevitable dilemma of "do I buy this $200 bottle or will that more expensive one be better?"
Pricing in wine is always tricky to master when you have never tasted a bottle, have no clue whether that winery is worth it or that vintage a good one. So, more often than that, you settle for the expensive bottle with the great hope that extra dollars will closely be linked to extra quality.
After reading the following, no more excuse: yes there are high quality wines below $200. And guess what? You just have to take a pen, jot them down and look for them on your next wine hunting trip around town.
Let's start with reds, Bordeaux reds actually. There are two 2008 that I fancy lately: Château Lacoste-Borie and Angélique de Montbousquet. Each comes from a very different region in Bordeaux, and each is a second wine of a classified growth. Lacoste-Borie is a typical Pauillac wine, one of those we immediately refer to as "succulent". It is loaded with fresh dark berries while having a solid backbone and hints of earthy flavours. Moving further, still in 2008, Angélique de Montbousquet is full of smooth spices and ripe cherries. We can already spot a few gamey notes that soften this young Saint-Emilion. Both of these great reds are the perfect example that Bordeaux is not just about Great Growths at skyrocketing prices that have to age for decades, but also about everyday wines ready to be uncorked, with no fuss.
Moving on to whites, though still staying in Franc, my favorite daily drinking white is definitely Château Marjosse 2010. This gold colour white is produced in the Entre-Deux-Mers region and is the home estate of Pierre Lurton, the man behind Château Cheval-Blanc. That's a good start. This lively white shows vivid tropical fruits thanks to its large proportion of Semillon. It is intensely refreshing with a great mineral length that gives a bit of structure. Ideal with a large plate of fresh oysters! The other dry white I always keep an eye on is Moulin de Gassac Sauvignon Blanc 2011. This one comes from the very south of France, where sun shines basically all year long, hence giving the wine ripe peach flavours and a crisp acidity that will last all through your aperitif... Oh, and by the way, those two are even below $120. I guess it's worth giving them a try.
Let's leave France a bit to discover Italy's spumante. Indeed, we often focus on Champagne and forget that Italy makes some of the best sparkling wines there are. I recently discovered a rather striking Italian sparkling made entirely from Greco grapes: Feudi di San Gregorio 2006 DUBL Greco Brut. Completely one-of-a-kind, the wines rest on the lees for 24 months. The main consequence of that ageing is a great opulence and richness. Pair that with ripe aromas of peach and fresh melon, add hints of almonds, and you might never want to put your glass down again. Don't forget to get some aged ham, and you will be all set for a quiet evening, Italian-style.
etc wine shops: http://www.etcwineshops.com/