France has the greatest wine dichotomy going on. Home to the greatest number of wines with astronomic price tags, it’s also the place with the greatest selection of value-priced wines. Case in point: the 2009 DOMAINE MAS DU BOUQUET Vacqueyras [vah kay rah]. 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre, this is a classic southern Rhone blend that may not have the depth or opulence of a premium priced Chateauneuf-du-Pape but has all the balance, texture, voluptuousness of fruit, earthiness and food-friendliness you could ask for in a $20 southern Rhone red wine. And for those either intimidated or turned off by a stuffy specialty wine retail store, this is a high-class bottle that can be found at a Total Wine. Really, for wine lovers there has never been a better time for non-royalty to drink like Kings and Queens. How to sum up the experience of this wine? Imagine, if you will, peasants storming the gates of the Kingdom—these rabble-rousers have broken through and are running amok in the cellars of the castle. Upon discovery of a room stocked full of wine barrels, they release the taps and freely indulge as the wine flows out. Using only their hands to capture the outpouring wine, they drink merrily—reveling in their victory—shouting: Down with the King! You’ll feel the same way too. –J.M.
Great Wine: Chateau Barde-Haut Saint-Emilion