The concept of value, particularly as applied to something as subjective as wine is nebulous at best and means different things to different people - you say tomato, I say potato, etc. - but for us it means wines that are significantly underpriced vis a vis their peers.
We have identified various reasons - dare we call them "value categories"? - to explain this phenomenon.
Black sheep: sometimes certain regions - or indeed entire countries (yes, I'm looking at you Germany) - are so tainted by the sins of their fathers that recent leaps forward in wine making quality fail to throw off the historical mantle of mediocrity and go unrewarded, resulting in some fantastic values.
Germany, Spain, Languedoc Roussillon, Rhone Valley & Beaujolais
Poor neighbours: some regions lie in the shadow of more famous neighbours and despite producing similar quality wines from often near identical terroir never achieve the dizzy price heights of them next door, even if in some cases - e.g. in Burgundy - the distances involved can be measured in footsteps.
Bergerac vs Bordeaux, Cotes de Francs vs St Emilion, Vosne Romanee vs Romanee Conti, Quincy, Reuilly vs Sancerre & Pouilly Fume
Undiscovered stars: in every given appelation there will be a hierarchy among producers of ability and recognition (and thus price). Sometimes - particularly in the case of young producers - there is a time lag between achieving the quality level and the market adjusting price accordingly.
Jacques Frederic Mugnier, Burgundy & Jerome Coursodon, St. Joseph, Rhone Valley
Weather freaks: most quality wine making in the world takes place in a narrow band of latitude wherein seasonal weather fluctuation dramatically affect the quality of the wine from one year to the next. Although recent improvements in viticulture and wine making mean that a ruined vintage is practically a thing of the past, there are certainly great fluctuations between one year and the next and vintage remains very important. All this said, in some generally perceived bad years there will always be a band of weather freaks who manage to beat the weather and produce a superior wine to that of their peers. Although those wines may be as good as those produced in a "better" year, in terms of pricing the wine will always be handicapped by the perceived vintage quality rating.
Chateau Pontet Canet, Bordeaux in almost all recent "off vintages" & 2003 Vacqueyras from Domaine Bouissiere
Little brothers: many wineries make 2 or 3 wines and work on the principle that they include only the very best grapes in the top cuvee, with the residual being effectively downgraded into the number 2 and 3 wines. The lesser wines are normally sold at a fraction of the price of the top wine but wine making quality focus remains the same, these normally represent excellent value for money.
Bordeaux second wines from the top chateaux & Declassified Chateauneuf super cuvees
Gilbert Grape: grape fashions come and go: this year it may be Chardonnay, next Merlot, next Riesling. Remember for example when Shiraz was so despised in Australia that it was baked into muffins?! Those in the spotlight naturally attract the best pricing. Meanwhile some grapes never seem to make it to the premier league hall of fame and thus languish forever undervalued.
Chenin Blanc & Grenache
Richard Dawson Owner of Parabola wine bar & the Devil in the grape wine co. Richard holds the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Diploma qualification and lectures at the Academie du Vin in Tokyo. He is originally from Edinburgh in Scotland, studied French at the University of St. Andrews and lived and worked in France prior to coming to Japan in 2001.