Bottom Line/Personal: Everyone always wants to know what the experts drink. So what do the sommeliers or the oenophiles, which are the “wineys,” drink?
Amy Dixon: These days, honestly, wines from the region of Savoie in France and the Pyrenees are sort of hip and cool. There’s a really cool region called Chignin that people are into. Northeastern Italy produces a great variety called Kerner, and that’s actually an ancient German varietal that is growing in the Alps up there—it is extraordinarily floral and crisp and aromatic, and it’s sort of a geek’s version of Pinot Grigio, if you will.
I’m trying to think of what else is really hip right now. The Loire Valley in France produces extraordinary white wines known as Sancerre, but very few people know that they also produce very good red wine, particularly from a grape called Cabernet Franc, called Chinon. That tends to be something really cool and hip.
What’s been the trend in the last five to eight years has been grower Champagnes. When we talk about grower Champagnes, we talk about wines that have been farmed and made and produced by the farmer and then bottled by the farmer. So very small production, very hands-on, and really exquisite and high-quality champagnes that are not expensive compared to the big Bollingers and Taittingers of the world, and they’re very high in quality.
Bottom Line: Are any of these lower priced, or are they all higher priced? Besides the farmer Champagnes, I mean all the ones that you talked about.
Dixon: You can find a great bottle of Chinon for about $20. The Chignin and the wines from Savoie also average about $20 to $25 a bottle. And you can find a great grower Champagne for under $50.