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Happy Hour: Small-Batch Wine

Anna Mowry

February 13, 2015

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With so many high-volume, global brands on the market, it’s easy to understand the allure of artisanal wine. Traditional, old-world winemaking—small-batch, terroir-driven wines, with minimal interference by the vintner—can yield thrilling results. Production limitations often result in big price tags, but there are still plenty of good values to be found. We enlisted JBF Award winner Daniel Johnnes, wine director at Daniel Boulud’s restaurants, to do the digging for you. 

Château Jean-Pierre Gaussen Bandol 2008 ($28)
Septuagenarian Jean-Pierre Gaussen does practically everything himself at his ultra-traditional estate in Bandol, a Provençal appellation in southern France. Rich, earthy, and gutsy, this mourvèdre and grenache blend is a fantastic expression of the region. 

Château Jean Faux Bordeaux Supérieur 2011 ($30)
This bottle may come from a humble appellation, but, thanks to winemaker Pascal Collotte, it’s absolutely delicious. A classic Rive Droite blend (80 percent merlot, 20 percent cabernet franc), it offers rich black and red fruit aromas and flavors.

Cailbourdin Les Cris Pouilly-Fumé 2013 ($25)
Located on the best Pouilly-Fumé slopes, Domaine Alain Cailbourdin produces this 100 percent sauvignon blanc cuvée. The Les Cris reveals the region’s famously distinctive terroir and aromatic expression, and is rightfully named after a local term used to describe a parcel of vines planted in pebbly limestone soil. 

Alain Gras Saint-Romain Blanc 2012 ($38)
Since starting his own domaine in 1982, Alain Gras has been instrumental in putting Saint-Romain on the map. The estate is situated at a relatively high altitude, creating a unique terroir and microclimate that produces consistently delicious wines. Gras’s style is pure and bright, with great depth on account of ripe fruit and mineral edge.

Duband Côte de Nuits-Village 20 12 ($33)
A rising star in Burgundy, David Duband strives to make wine that the consumer will take pleasure in drinking. He has succeeded with this pinot noir from his 17-hectare, biodynamically cultivated vineyard. Mouthwatering and complex, this wine is partially crafted with whole-cluster grapes picked from 40-year-old vines, while the juice is neither fined nor filtered.

Anna Mowry is senior editor at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.