13 Mar A world tour of wine, Part 1
Do you walk into the LCBO and head for the same old, same old when it comes to wine? Are you swayed by the specials, or do you go in looking for something new to impress your friends that pairs with your dinner menu perfectly? Whatever kind of wine connoisseur you are, you have to admit that while there’s nothing like that faithful chardonnay, there’s equally nothing like invigorating your palate and trying something new.
The great news is that unusual vintages don’t have to break the bank, nor do you have to travel the world to find them (though there’s probably no better place to enjoy a Nero di Troia than at an outdoor café on the dusty cobblestones of a narrow Puglia street). You can simply go online to a wine retailer and sample rare finds that add a little sparkle to the dreary between-season evenings that are just begging for something to add interest to our everyday fare. Here are some must-try wines that you won’t necessarily see featured at the Wine Rack, but are worth tracking down.
Tanzen Dame Edelzwicker Blue Cap from Bloomer Creek Vineyard, Finger Lakes area, Syracuse New York: Tanzen Dame, which roughly translates to “Dance, Lady?” in German, was created as a tribute to the great wines of Germany, Austria, and the Alsace. Artisanally produced in small, minimally processed batches, the Edelzwicker wines are blends of Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Cayuga White, the Finger Lakes’ own grape, plus other white varietals.
2011 Alto de la Ballena, Uruguay: Forget the Argentinian Malbec for just one moment and try this startling Tannat-Viognier blend of surprisingly complementary opposites – Tannat’s rugged and unrefined tannins combine with the Viognier’s delicate fragrance to make Uruguay a contender to the throne currently occupied by more popular and better known Chilean and Argentinian offerings.
Agali, Koutsogiannopoulous Winery, Santorini, Greece: We all know Italy and France for their remarkable variety of high quality wines, but Greeks didn’t invent democracy without the aid of grapes, thank you very much. The volcanic soil of the Greek island of Santorini produces delightful grapes which are used to make Agali, a young white wine with a soft taste and fruity aroma that is the perfect complement to fresh seafood and cheeses. Note: do not chill lower than 9 degrees Celsius.
Cuvee de Siam Rouge, Monsoon Valley, Siam Winery, Thailand: Asia isn’t necessarily known for its wines, with perhaps the exception of sake (which technically is not even wine) but wines have been produced for thousands of years in Asia. This full bodied red is 90 percent shiraz, with aromas of tobacco, coffee, chocolate, tar, roasted nuts and forest berries delivering a silky structure with a long and spicy finish.
Fratelli Sangiovese Bianco. India’s wine culture may still be called ‘emerging’, but this smooth white wine made from red grapes – a rarity anywhere in the world – is anything but. With the complexity of a red but the smooth, light finish of a white, this is a must-try for anyone looking for an interesting international white.
The world being a very big place, we’ll report on what off-the-beaten-path vintners in the rest of the world are up to, next month!