Domaine Monpertuis Cuve Counoise Vin de Pays du Gard, 2003
Score wine-geek points by being first in your Zip Code to drink this velvety and rare counoise in its 100 percent varietal form. As this rare Rhne grape isn’t on the mainstream radar, a bottle of it is still cheap. After a faint touch of sheep and cedar, the spicy sun-drenched plum and dried rose petal become seductive.
Chambers Street Wines, 160 Chambers St., nr. Greenwich St.; 212-227-1434
Franois Pinon Vouvray Brut, NV
Robert Parker is said to hate the Loire. His loss is our gain: Thanks to Parker’s animus, these wines stay unnaturally inexpensive, considering their quality. This Chenin Blanc is a brilliant, dry sparkler with small, gentle bubbles, a fresh apple flavor, and a touch of marzipan on the finish. Try it blind against Clicquot and see which one wins.
Chambers Street Wines
Domaine de la Pepire Muscadet, 2004
Most Muscadet is plonk, but the best offers exceptional value. In the case of the Domaine de la Pepire, old melon de Bourgogne grapevines (not a clone among them), coupled with a master producer, result in a wine with the scent of snowfall and a taste of summer. With its splash of lemon, this is killer with seafood or spicy food.
Astor Wines & Spirits, 12 Astor Pl., nr. Broadway; 212-674-7500
CASE TO LAY IN
$179.88 per crate
Louis-Claude Desvignes Morgon Cte du Py, 2002
You don’t need a pile of money and two decades of aging to enjoy matured wine, but you do have to lay down the right stuff. This friendly Gamay mixes muscle with broodingly ripe raspberry. It won’t bring squat at resale (only blue-chip wines do that), but it will repay royally in taste. The Morgon will deepen and become more expressive in just three years—quicker than most wines—yet keep easily for ten.
Crush Wines & Spirits, 153 E. 57th St., nr. Lexington Ave.; 212-980-9463
BARGAINS IN WINE
Garnet Wines and Spirits and Warehouse Wine & Spirits have a following for bargain prices, but there are a lot of weeds among the flowers. Astor Place Wines & Spirits offers a different, more reliable deal: unadvertised in-store monthly specials. Some serious stuff is almost always offered, usually the staff’s favorite sleepers, up to a whopping 30 percent off retail. Recent scores included a Chteau D’oupia at $6.99 and Cousin-Leduc Le Breton for $11.99. Sign up for e-mail notifications, and look out for “Discount Tuesday”—15 percent off a region or grape of the store’s choice.
12 Astor Pl., at Lafayette St.;