So here we are in 2012. I’ll be honest; I’m not much of a New Year’s resolution kinda guy. However I do think about things that I would like to do in the year to come to try and better myself and expand my horizons. With the end of the world just around the corner, one thing I am planning on doing is focusing on trying some new and obscure varietals. I love finding those random new wines that can become a seasonal or perennial favorite of mine.
For example, I have recently been enamored with the wines of Campania in Italy, and more specifically the ones from the Taurasi DOCG which is an appellation within Campania. Aglianico is the main grape varietal used in the region and helps to produce big, concentrated and complex red wines. They make wonderful pairings with beef or veal dishes, as they can be somewhat tannic when they are young with lots of dark fruit character. My favorite right now is the 2007 Donnachiara Taurisi. It’s not cheap running in the $30 range, but man is it impressive!
While almost every wine drinker in the world is familiar with Cabernet Sauvignon, its neglected distant cousin Cabernet Franc can influence some pretty exciting wines as well. While it is mostly used as a blending grape in Bordeaux, more US wineries are using it as the feature grape variety in their wines. In warmer areas like California and Washington State it can mimic a lot of the Cabernet Sauvignon characteristics leading to big, fruit driven and tannic wines. However the cooler climates of the Loire Valley in France and New York lead to lighter wines with some herbal notes and bright acidity making them inherently food friendly. A few favorites of mine are the 2010 Ironstone Cabernet Franc California ($8-12), the2006 Pellegrini Cabernet Franc Long Island ($14-18) and the2009 Owen Roe “Rosa Mystica” Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley, WA ($35-40).
The Rkatsiteli grape is one of the oldest known to man. It produces wines similar to a Riesling or Gewurztraminer which I have been diggin’ lately, especially ones from the Finger Lakes Region in Upstate NY. Someone turned me on to the Dr. Konstantin Frank 2009 Rkatsiteli ($14-20) about a week ago and I was pretty surprised how pleasant it was. It has this aroma of fresh flowers and herbs followed by a mouth full of clean fruit and crisp acidity. So now I am on the look out for more of these Rkatsiteli wines, specifically from the Finger Lakes, in hopes they are all this tasty!
Remember, there are literally hundreds of different grape varieties that are out there and they all will show different characteristics when grown in different regions. So don’t be afraid to try something new to see what floats your boat. After all, even if it is not your new favorite wine you can probably still catch a pretty good buzz from it 😉