Fine Champagne doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, although Champagne has a reputation as one of the most expensive types of wine in the world, it is actually very fairly priced when you consider how much time and effort goes into producing it. In this guide to the best Champagne under $200, you’ll find dozens of bottles that will make excellent additions to your collection. Whether you’re planning a special dinner party with friends or you’d like to start an affordable Champagne collection from scratch, these wines are the perfect choice.
What do Harlan Estate, Opus One, and Screaming Eagle have in common? All of these iconic producers own vineyards in the Oakville American Viticultural Area (AVA). The Oakville AVA is a small California winegrowing region located at the center of the Napa Valley that is famous for its production of top-quality Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blends. Some of the world’s most expensive and sought-after Cabernet Sauvignon labels like Harlan Estate and Morlet Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Passionnément are made in the tiny Oakville region.
Without a doubt, the best region in Oregon for growing top-tier Pinot Noir is the Willamette Valley. This relatively cool, dry American Viticultural Area (AVA) located in the northwest region of the state produces wines that are perfectly balanced in virtually every way. The best Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is deeply concentrated in flavor, yet also soft and graceful. It’s earthy, but also sweetly fruity and full of bright red berry flavors like cranberry and cherry. Some wine critics even compare Willamette Valley Pinot Noir to top-quality Burgundy.
Sonoma Valley in California has earned a stellar reputation for producing some of the most fascinating wines in the New World. An incredible array of wines is made here, from refined and elegant Pinot Noir that dances delicately on the palate to robust and hedonistic Zinfandel that’s full of unctuous fruit flavors. What makes this region so diverse? More than a dozen microclimates and terroirs are packed into this small county. There are 18 Sonoma wine appellations (called American Viticultural Areas, or AVAs for short), each producing different styles of wine. No two appellations are exactly alike.
Spain is home to many passionate producers that pride themselves on crafting opulent styles of wine with impressive aging potential. From the concentrated and oaked wines of Rioja to the aromatic and polished wines of Ribera del Duero, Spain has so much to offer. Vinfolio’s resident Master of Wine Adam Lapierre says that more collectors should get excited about Spanish wines, as many wines from this country are growing more valuable and delicious every year.
Now that producers in Burgundy have brought in the last of their 2019 crop, spirits are high across the region. Extremely warm weather and uneven flowering early in the season reduced yields, but the quality of the surviving fruit is exceptional. Early reports show that the grapes are deeply concentrated and intense this year—a quality that could signify great aging potential and value in the future. In this 2019 Burgundy vintage report, we highlight the wines we believe will have the greatest complexity and value this year so that you can make the most informed decisions about how to invest when the vintage is released.
If you were to rank the best American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in the United States, the Russian River Valley wine region would be near the top of the list. This California AVA located in Sonoma is tremendously well-respected among wine experts, who consider it one of the greatest regions in the world for growing complex Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Many of the wines made here are acidic, elegant, and multilayered. These are luscious wines that every collector should experience at least once in a lifetime.
When many people think of Chianti, they picture a squat wine bottle encased in a rustic straw covering and served alongside a heaping plate of Tuscan antipasto. This is, after all, a bright, acidic wine that has been shared at Tuscan dinner tables for centuries. It’s one of the few wines in the world that enhances almost any dish you pair with it.
Pinot Noir is a wine chameleon—it evolves in response to its surroundings, taking on an entirely new personality in every terroir. This light-bodied red wine variety is extremely sensitive to even the slightest changes in climate, which is why there’s such a notable difference between New-World Pinot Noir and Old-World Pinot Noir. While New-World Pinot Noir is often fruit-forward, heavily oaked, and extracted, Old-World Pinot Noir is generally more delicate, acidic, and earthy.
The Umbrian wine region of Italy may be small, but its wines pack a powerful punch. The best wines from Umbria are racy and vibrant and many have aging potential. This region is also incredibly diverse; while it’s known for citrusy, dry white wines, Umbria also produces many bold, tannic red varieties that are gaining in popularity among Italian wine collectors. This guide will explore what collectors need to know about this marvelous “green heart of Italy,” including the area’s best-known subregions, finest producers, and most collectible blends.
If you compare Pomerol vs. Saint-Émilion in a blind tasting, can you tell the difference? Even many well-educated Bordeaux connoisseurs can’t tell these wines apart. Because these appellations are neighbors located in the northwestern region of the Right Bank, their climates are very similar and both areas produce rich, complex Merlot-based blends with great aging potential.
In Langhe, wine is more than a beverage—it’s a way of life. Winemakers in this hilly area located in the Piedmont region of northern Italy have been cultivating grapes here for many centuries. The region even has a coveted spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list due to its long history of winemaking. The best Langhe wines (particularly Nebbiolo) are intense, tannic, and long-lived, full of heady perfume and bright acidity. Its rich history coupled with the incredibly high quality of the wines has made Langhe a top destination for wine-loving tourists and serious collectors.