Written by Al Drinkle
Yes, it’s certainly more our fault than yours, as you are sufficiently inundated with labels and recommendations here to let these gems slip through the cracks. But here are 10 wines that you shouldn’t be oblivious to!
1. 2013 Borie de Maurel Minervois “Esprit d’Automne” - Languedoc, France $20
I can’t believe that I even have to mention this wine! It’s a spicy, flavorful and delicious Mediterranean blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan made by a lovably maniacal family of hedonists. The spirit of autumn indeed, find out in the coming weeks…
2. 2013 Monteraponi Chianti Classico - Tuscany, Italy $39
Don’t forget that Chianti can be great too. This is deep and traditional Tuscan teleportation serum, red-berry road fruit with dust intact. Look no further for a sophisticated and rewarding Italian experience for braised meats and other hearty fare.
3. 2012 Domaine les Hautes Terres Limoux “Louis” – Languedoc, France $29
Over-ripe Chenin Blanc and under-ripe Chardonnay join forces to create an aromatically intense wine of wonderful richness, freshness, texture and singular charm. It’s natural wine guru Gilles Azam’s great idea and it’s a wine that you gotta try.
4. 2013 Château Thivin Brouilly “Reverdon” – Beaujolais, France $29
The Geoffray’s family estate is the pride of Brouilly and this wine is one of Beaujolais’ most juicy, persistent and unyieldingly delicious expressions. It’s an example of the Gamay grape at its most perfunctorily utilitarian.
5. 2012 Château Viella Madiran “Tradition” – Southwest France $20
This is a criminally under-priced wine of heartwarming rusticity. It’s a meaty, black-fruity and intense pounder from untamed environs and it desperately wants to make your excellent cassoulet taste even better.
6. 2013 Wagner-Stempel Riesling “Vom Porphyr” – Rheinhessen, Germany $39
Daniel Wagner has crafted a young-vine blend from the provender of his two organic Grand Cru vineyards. Dry Riesling gets more expensive and ageworthy than this, but rarely is it more serene, sublime and satisfying. It’s like drinking Chablis on ecstasy (in the likely case that I’m out of touch, replace “ecstasy” with whatever drug the kids are doing these days…)
7. Valdespino Inocente Fino Sherry – Jerez, Spain $23 (375 mL bottle)
The presence of this wine on this list represents sherry in general and the disturbing indifference that our city still shows towards this venerable wine style. Great sherry is simply the greatest value in the wine world (this coming from a Riesling fanatic!) and the most immediate way to explore the virtues of mature wine. Inocente is a 10-year-old fino from a single vineyard and Valdespino might be the last cellar in the region to ferment their wines in oak instead of steel.
8. Domaine de Montbourgeau Crémant du Jura – Jura, France $35
The Jura is France’s tiniest region and produces some of the most eccentric wines on the planet. That being said, their bubbly is usually very easy to like and in this case, Nicole Deriaux has made a sparkling Chardonnay that tastes like Champagne but the obscurity factor saves you money.
9. 2013 Dr. Deinhard Spätburgunder – Pfalz, Germany $28
Cistercian monks brought Pinot Noir from Clos de Vougeot to their satellite convent in the Rheingau in the 12th century, so the Germans have had a full 900 years to learn how to cultivate this grape – we just never hear about it because they’re more than capable of drinking it all themselves! Get over the inordinate provenance and get down with one of the juiciest, spiciest Pinots for under $40 in town. Skeptics can stick their toes in the water by ordering a glass at Pigeonhole; we’ll see you afterwards for a case.
10. A+M Quenard Chignin Mondeuse “Vieilles Vignes” – Savoie, France $31
This is without question the most concentrated, spicy and delicious example of the Mondeuse grape that I’ve ever had. For the Northern Rhône Syrah devotee who wants to tread the alpine path in search of levity, the Pinot Noir fan seeking a touch more pepper and grip, or any adventurous wine-lover looking for something delightfully obscure.