Back to Wine 101
6 Underrated Wines That Your Afraid To Try
Let’s face it…everyone has faced this situation. You’re shopping to re-stock on your favorite wines, your looking at the shelves…and then the questions start;
“What the hell is a Semillon?”
“Is this white wine version of Chateauneuf-du-Pape as good as the red version?”
“I love Cabernet Sauvignon, but will I love Cabernet Franc the same way?”
The choices can be daunting and the confidence as to whether you want to spend on something you might not even like can be a tough choice for many.
Let’s run a few numbers; There are over 5,000 species of vitis vinifera (the most common genus of grape used to make quality wine) in existence. Several hundred of those are in commercial production and can be found in some form on the current market, whether on their own or as a part of a blend. To add to that, let’s not get started on the dilemma of blends, which can take on a different profile of flavors depending on the percentage ratio of one grape added to another.
Is your brain spinning yet?
In this article, we are going to simplify six varietals that are not commonly found that you should try the next time you should find yourself in a wine shop. To make things just a little more relatable, these wines will be compared to styles that are more generic to create the best match:
Origin: Rueda, Spain
Great for people who like: Sancerre (White)
If Spain ever has an answer to the Sauvignon Blanc produced from France’s Loire Valley, this is it! Any lover of white Sancerre will automatically recognize the flavors; tarter lime, fresh lemon verbena mixed with a touch of passion fruit and a sprinkle of garden herbs…oh perfect! The Flor de Vetus Verdejo is made from an old vineyard site at a 900 meter elevation, emphasizing the freshness that makes wine excellent to finish off summer sipping!
Origin: Roero, Piedmont, Italy
Great for people who like: Dry Riesling
The grape commonly referred to as ‘White Nebbiolo’ has never truly received the recognition as its red cousin. Barolo lovers usually turn a blind eye to the wines of Roero, yet several renowned Barolo producers including Bruno Giacosa, Vietti and Ceretto have small holdings for Arneis production. To go directly off this, you can never go wrong with a bottle of Vietti, who makes a sublime Roero Arneis that matches their ability to make cru quality Barolo. Arneis has an uncanny resemblance to tarter dry Riesling with underripe stone fruit and crisp citrus notes
Origin: Bordeaux, France
Great for people who like: Richer-style Chardonnay
Now let’s get around to a question asked earlier: What the hell is a Semillon? To start, it’s a white grape and to add to that, it has its home in Bordeaux where it’s produced alongside some of the most collectible red wines in the world. However, today we are taking a major twist, not to Bordeaux, but to Napa. Is Napa known for Semillon? Absolutely not! Regardless, Fine Disregard (get it?) makes a wonderful fully textured and slightly oaked Semillon from three different vineyard parcels growing this obscurely singular white grape. The beautiful oak treatment on this wine mixed with creamy tropical fruit tones makes this incredibly ideal for the Chardonnay drinker at heart.
Color: Made as a Rosé
Origin: Provence, France
Great for people who like: Rosé
I have been trying to make a serious case for Cinsault rosé for some time. Grenache and Syrah are usually the common suspects for rosé out of the Provence but Cinsault when done right can make a truly stunning pink wine. The Triennes Rosé is not entirely Cinsault but you can just taste the difference in how Cinsault etches clean and super linear flavors with just the right amount of intensity.
Origin: Jura, France
Great for people who like: Red Burgundy or Barbaresco
The Jura in France is rampant with exciting wines and Poulsard or ‘Ploussard’ is one of those interesting grapes making unique oxidative style wines. When it comes to wines here though, you really need to find the right producer, and Domaine du Pelican is a good benchmark. The jockey running the horse at Pelican is Guillaume d’Angerville of the renowned Domaine Marquis d’Angerville, one of the great Burgundy producers based out of the village of Volnay. Made from an older parcel, the Poulsard is treated with extreme care and made into a beautiful and fragrant effort.
Grape: Touriga Nacional
Origin: Duoro, Portugal
Great for people who like: Australian Shiraz
The grape mainly responsible for some of the greatest fortified Port wines is also making its way into table reds with surprising results. ‘Rufo’ meaning ‘drum’ is a powerhouse value red to put it lightly produced by the port house Quinta Vale Dona Maria. This can be an eye opener for anyone who has little experience with Portuguese wine. Ripe complex fruit flavors with elegant seamless texture makes this one of the great values on our shelf currently at less than $15. The stakes are low and this is an opportunity to not miss a red that simply over delivers.