David, sometimes on WB, I don’t know whether to take a comment as serious or sarcastic. Maybe it’s the lack of facial cues (although you did provide the snorting pig). Anyway I did find your comment easily corroborated and, yes, that does provide some sobering and useful perspective. Cheers.
Extreme Value wines, average cost $4.00, this category is made up of bulk wine.
Value wine, average cost, $4-$10, described as “Basic quality bulk wines from large regions and producers.”
Popular Premium Wines, average cost $10-$15, “Large production, decent varietal wines and blends
Premium $14-$20 “Good, solid quality wines
Super Premium $20-$30 “ Great, handmade wines from medium-large production wineries
Ultra Premium $30-$40 “Great quality, handmade, excellent-tasting wines from small to large producers”
Luxury $50-$100 “Excellent wines from wine regions made by near-top producers”
Super Luxury $100-$200 “Wines from top producers from microsites”
Icon $200+ “The pinnacle of wines, wineries and microsites.”
“Cult” is, as noted, a bit of a problematic descriptor. Using what I think is the better terminology from your thread title, my list of “essential canon” exemplars in the $25-$50 range (and that can be problematic, too, over time, as some prices change faster than others) would include (not repeating those you already listed) -
Bdx (red) - Cantemerle, Sociando
Burg (red) - Pavelot 1ers, Jadot Beaune 1ers
Chablis - Louis Michel 1ers
Loire chenin - Huet Secs and Demis, Chidaine
Tuscany - Felsina Rancia
Piedmont - Produttori “normale”
Campania - Mastroberardino Taurasi “Radici”
Zin/blends - Bedrock heritage wines
N. Rhône - Faury VV St. Joe, Graillot Crozes “Guiraude”
Germany - Willi Schaefer Kabi and Spät
Bojo - Roilette “Tardive”
Rosë - Tempier Bandol
Some former members are much missed in this price range - Tempier crus, Beaucastel, Gonon St. Joe, and too many others to name, as they have escalated to the next level.
I tried to focus not only on wines I like but on wines I perceive to have a fairly wide following among winos, and fairly wide distribution.
I don’t think he’s calling you low brow. I think he’s saying that the term “cult” is usually attributed to a very specific thing in Napa that almost exclusively includes (i) famous winemaker; (ii) famous vineyard; (iii) extremely high price; (iv) relatively small production. Those things yield a very avid following that, given the relatively small supply, drives gray market pricing up and up and up. The wines become market drivers and collectible, like Harlan, Screagle, Tusk, Scarecrow, Macdonald.
Frog’s Leap can be purchased in grocery stores with decent wine selections. One of my esteemed Berserker pals who eschews rich Napa bombers other than Ovid absolutely adores Frog’s Leap and considers it the best value in the Valley. I think it’s solid juice. But it isn’t a cult wine just like Ridge zins aren’t a cult wine.
I actually agree with that read of his comment and that your list is the usual “cult.” Clearly, my language has not been as precise as would have been ideal for this exercise (need more coffee), but there have already been some fantastically helpful responses… so no “ragrets!”
Rioja - LdH, CVNE, La Rioja Alta, Pecina
Cali Cab - Ridge Estate Cab (creeping out of this bracket)
Pinot Noir (USA) - Arcadian, Rhys San Mateo, Domaine Eden/Mount Eden (depending on pricing)
Bordeaux - Grand Puy Lacoste, Cantemerle, Sociando Mallet, Older Lanessan
Piemont - Vietti Perbacco, Produttori
Sangiovese - Il Poggione
Chardonnay - Kutch
Loire - Baudry, Amirault
Champagne - Pol Roger White Label
S Rhone - Bois de Boursan
In the So Rho I’d also suggest Charvin, Vieux Telegraphe, Beaucastel. The latter two may be above the $70 cap in some vintages, but they do have other lower priced bottlings worth putting away (Telegramme/Piedlong, Coudelet). I also do not think they are polarizing flavor profiles.