Sure you’re used to enjoying your regular chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and merlot but what about stepping outside of your tried and tested wine zone? Lesser known varieties can often surprise you with their familiar yet oh so different characteristics, here CSL introduces you to five wine styles that will open up new possibilities.
Produced in Italy’s Lombardy region, unlike prosessco, this DOCG status sparkling wine uses chardonnay, pinot noir and, to a lesser degree pinot blanc grapes in the traditional methode champagnoise.
Try: Enrico Gatti franciacorta brut DOCG made from 100% chardonnay, this family owned winery produces only 100,000 bottles. Fresh and lively with citrus notes and floral, perfumed bouquet.
Grown in the Mediterranean for centuries, this dark skinned grape produces full bodied ‘meaty’, high tannin wines that are most often used in blends with other varieties like syrah, grenache and cinsault. However 100% mouvedre is becoming increasing popular, especially in Spain where wines are rich with blackberry and dark cherry notes.
Try: Bodegas Volver Tarima Hill Monastrell 2015 Sourced from organic, dry farmed limestone soil in Alicante. Ggrapes are aged in new French oak for fourteen months, resulting in a rich purple colour, smoky bouquet, dark berry fruit and soft mid palate tannin and balanced acidity.
3/ Falerno del Massico
Dating back to ancient Rome, this wine using aglianico grapes from the Campania region of Italy which was designated DOC in 2012, comprising a mere forty four wineries in the area.
Try: Villa Matilde Falerno del Massico Rosso DOP made with 80% Aglianico and 20% Piedirosso grapes gathered from the slopes of Roccamonfina volcano. At the end of the fermentation process, 50% of the wine is aged in Allier barriques and 50% in traditional Slavonian oak for up to one year. Deep garnet in colour, the rich nose is full of violet, cherry and blackberry, with a full bodied elegant balance in the mouth and long finish.
This white wine comes from the Loire Valley region of France dedicated to the production of chenin blanc (both sparkling and flat wine). The style of wine from Vouvray characteristically produces floral aromas with notes of orchard fruit, balanced acidity and range from sweet to dry.
Try: Bougrier Vouvray Chenin Blanc
The cursive ‘douce france’ atop the label hints at the off dry, light honeysuckle-like wine with balanced acidity and fragrant quince, pear and peach aromatics. This voluptuous medium body vouvray is rounded out with creamy nuttiness.
5/ Anjou Villages
This appellation lies in the Western Loire Valley region, marked by full bodied red wines that are blends of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Elegant red fruit with floral violet and the ability to drink this wine ‘younger’ compared to those of the Bordeaux region make this wine shine.
Try: Chateau La Variere Anjou Villages Brissac Vielle Vigne Rich and smoky with a velvety tannin structure, this dark ruby wine punches well above its weight. Excellent with grilled meat, cheese and game.
This original wines and spirits article first appeared in the Fall 2020 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.