I believe my mother might have been a grape and I was bottle fed. Actually, 750mL-bottle fed.

I started collecting wines about 50 years ago in order to fulfill a fantasy: I walk into a wine store and the manager, a knowledgeable fellow, greets me. “Hello, Mr. Bachner. Nice to see you. We have wines from all over the world here. And they’re all good. Take whatever you want. It’s all free.”

Except for the free part, I have kind of actualized the fantasy. Because my obsession became known years ago, people began asking me for recommendations. “My daughter’s getting married. What’s a really nice, but inexpensive red?” In fact, I started specializing in really good, but-not-all-that-expensive wines. After all, anyone can recommend Chateau Petrus, a sublime, merlot-based Bordeaux that sells for $4,000+ per bottle. Have you ever heard of Merle aux Alouettes, Vin de Pays d’Oc from Alain Chabanon? The 1999 vintage outscored Petrus in a pretty large and serious blind tasting. It sells for about $30 per bottle.

So, in this blog, you’ll seldom read about really great wines that sell for more than $25 per bottle, unless it’s a wine like Louis Martini’s 2014 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a 97-point, 30-year wine thus blessed by none other than His Eminence Robert Parker. With that kind of accolade, the wine should have been selling for $200+, but it was available (for a short while, at least) for $19. (Now, where available, the tariff is $60 and still an absolute steal. Ditto the 2013 Sebastiani Gravel Bed Red, also 97 points and 30 years.) I’m not going to blog you about all the amazing scents and flavors other reviewers describe (“A hint of musty attic”; GIVE ME A BREAK!) because no two of them ever agree; it’s your taste buds that count. I will tell you what I think about a wine, how much it costs, and where you can get it. Tell me what you think! E-mail me at john@bachner.com. Fill out and submit the form below for a free subscription.