It’s easy to get stuck in the rut of buying the same wines over and over again. I know you probably have your favourites but sticking to one country or one grape variety for your whole life is kind of like monogamy in the middle of an orgy…what fun is that? So get out from the sidelines and jump right in the middle of the pile! There is a whole world of vinous delights waiting for you.
Here are a few “try something new” suggestions to kick-start your adventures:
1. Austrian Gruner Veltliner – This is the most planted white grape in the great wine growing country of Austria. Allow often overlooked, Austria produces some of the most unique and interesting wines in the world. Gruner Veltliner is normally produced in a dry, mineral driven style and is notorious for unique “Szechuan pepper” notes on the nose and palate. Although there are many great producers, some of my favourites are Rabl, Schloss Gobelburg, Nigl, FX Pichler and Emmerich Knoll.
2. Campanian Whites – The province of Campania, located in South-West Italy, is known for its wild, volcanic landscape and even wilder wines. Although they produce some delicious reds, I am most fond of their white wines produced from interesting local varietals. The “holy trinity” of Campanian whites is formed by three indigenous grape varieties; Greco, Fiano and Falanghina. These white’s are almost always an excellent value and are the perfect accompaniment to a fresh Caprese salad on a patio. Depending on the producer and grape these wines can range from lean and fresh with a touch of anise to rich and oily with deep peach and apricot notes. My favourite producers are Feudi di San Gregorio and Villa Matilde.
3. Portuguese Reds – Portugal is most famous for its fortified wines from the Douro valley, but the often overlooked table wines produced here are the true hidden gems. The deep, plummy reds are made from a hodgepodge of indigenous grapes including Turiga Nacional (their national grape), Tinta Roriz (known in Spain as Tempranillo), Tinta Cao and many more. It’s not un-common for a wine to be produced from a blend of 10 varietals or more. These silky, rich reds are the perfect accompaniment to barbecued meats! Some of my favourite producers are Quinta do Crasto and Quinta do Vale Meao.
4. Spanish Monastrel – Full bodied, wild and spicy…enough about my dream girl, let’s talk about Monastrel! Wow, was that ever terrible. I think I need a nap, or a sandwich, or a nap followed by a sandwich. Known in France as Mourvedre, this grape has also found a home in the Mediterranean coast in South-East Spain. Areas such as Yecla, Jumilla and Alicante provide an ideal climate for this dark, brooding grape and deliver excellent value!
5. Sicilian Nero d’Avola – If the goal of a wine is to showcase its birthplace then Nero d’Avola has achieved its goals. Dark, wild and mysterious Nero d’Avola truly is Sicily in a bottle. Nero d’Avola can be found both as a single varietal as well as blended with international grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot or local grapes such as Frappato. Either way these wines generally deliver great value and are the perfect accompaniments to roast meats and game.
These are just a few of the off-beat gems you may encounter while traversing the world of wine. The next time your at your favourite wine retailer or restaurant take a leap of faith and try something new. You never know what new favourite you might un-cover…