Wine, Food, And The Pursuit Of Happiness

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

5 Best New Wines You've Never Heard Of

First off, let's talk about this word "new" and what it means in the wine world.  Like so many wine words, it can mean whatever you want it to, whether historically new, stylistically new, or just never heard of it before, which is what we're talking about most of the time.

White wine for red wine lovers
All of the wines we use in class for "The Best New Wines You've Never Heard Of" are new in different ways.  The grapes are not necessarily new on the timeline of history.  A couple of them are new to where they're grown, but the others have been in place hundreds, maybe thousands of years.

2011 Destinos "Cruzados" Macabeo (La Mancha, south-central Spain, about $10)
Like many other grapes, Macabeo is working to enunciate itself as a grape and a wine, moving wishfully toward a time when we might say gimme a Macabeo, as if it were Pinot Grigio or something.  This delicious zesty white wine made me think of pears, and although it's very zippy and citrusy, the flavor overall is deep and dense, and some of the experience reminded me of red wine.  There's more than one thing going on in this wine, a condition wine lovers sometimes call complex.

2011 J. Lohr "Wildflower" Valdiguié (Monterey, California, USA, about $13)
This unique French transplant has a color so beautiful and an aroma so exotic that I feel like I could just spend the whole day looking at it and smelling it and almost never having to drink it, although that's not going to happen.  For once, the name the wine is marketed under - Wildflower - is accurate in every way and tells you everything you need to know about what to expect from Valdiguié: smells like dried flowers, tastes like raspberry juice, very very soft texture.

Rebound red from Argentina
2011 Tilia Bonarda (Mendoza, Argentina, about $11)
One of the challenges to selling a wine as new is that there's always something new to take your place: first came Aussie Shiraz, now supplanted unthinkably by Malbec from Argentina.  But what happens when we grow weary of Malbec?  I know it sounds impossible right now because we're so in love, but there are more red wines in Argentina, and Bonarda is positioned to be there so we have some arms to fall into and wine to drink when we break up.  If you like Malbec, you'll like Bonarda.

2011 Enotria "Ciró" Gaglioppo (Campania, southern Italy, about $15)
Ancient Greeks planted wine grapes in southern Italy first, about 1000 BCE or before.  This juicy red grape probably came from Turkey or at least got its name from Galipoli long ago, but it's only within the last few years that the world has started paying attention to unfamous red grapes abundant in Italy: Nero d'Avola, Frappato, Grillo, Aglianico, Catarratto, to name just a couple, and now Gaglioppo (golly-O-po).  This wine is pretty light bodied on the one hand but forward and full of berry juice flavors on the other.  Great with food, anything from spicy seafood to pasta and grilled light meats: chicken, pork, sausages, and the like.

Only $20, but I taste money
2011 Bodegas Ordoñez "Tineta" Tempranillo (Ribera del Duero, western Spain, about $20)
The Duero River runs south of the much more famous and important Rioja wine region then west into Portugal, becomes the Douro (home of port), and then the sea.  Cool upper eastern valleys in Spain grow Tempranillo too, the main grape of Rioja, which is exactly what this wine tastes like, only a much much more expensive Rioja.  There's a nice dose of toasty oak in this Tineta red, which I fantasize about drinking and eating with something grilled or even roasted on a spit.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Twilight Of The Wine Bottles

Just the other day at a wine party, we fell into another fevered conversation about cork versus screwcap versus synthetic cork versus whatever.

But isn't cork better? Isn't screwcap better? Even if screwcap really is better, doesn't cork do a better job of saying you care, on a date at least? If I was still young and good-looking and trying to meet women, I would definitely wait until the seventh date to break out the screwcap wine, but that's just me.

No bottle, no cork, no screwcap, no problem!
Right in the middle of this meeting of the slightly intoxicated minds, I showed off a sample someone had sent me just that day — Stack Wines "Charisma" — four glasses of wine in four stemless plastic wine glasses stacked one on top of the other. The conversation changed utterly.

What were we talking about again? Nothing, because if the bottle goes away, the irresistible but false dichotomy of cork versus screwcap goes away too.