The Drync.com Wine Blog
Delicious New Alternatives to Your Everyday Favorite Wines!
May 2, 2015
Don’t get us wrong – we love our everyday household names as much as the next person. But sometimes we like to shake things up with some deliciously weird and obscure wines that might take a little digging to find.
Sometimes, you just have to get weird.
Here are a few awesome grape varieties that fall on the obscure side but are well worth seeking out. We are going to make your life super easy, by providing suggestions based on other varieties that you currently like, and providing links to our favorite examples.
If you like Champagne, you will like Franciacorta
Notice we do not say love – you, Champagners are hard to please sometimes! For the rest of us mere mortals, this is a wine that will make you cry “Why didn’t anyone tell us about this sooner!”
In general, Italian sparkling wine is synonymous with Prosecco, that fun, frivolous, off-dry bubbly that makes Sunday a fun day. It is also what makes rediscovering Franciacorta, Italy’s take on Champagne, such a delight again, and again, and again. It has all of the steely, elegance of a Champagne, with that innate Italian one-two punch of perfectly balanced fruit and acidity. The Berlucchi Brut is an example of what makes Franciacorta awesome.
If you like Sauvignon Blanc you will love Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
If you like Sauvignon Blanc’s herbal, aromatic, acid-driven profile, then you ought to give Tuscany’s Vernaccia di San Gimignano a try. Michaelangelo famously referred to this golden colored beauty as the wine that “kisses, licks, bites, heats, and stings.”
Is it getting hot in here?
We would add feisty, sassy, and beguiling, rich with herbal aromatics, flavors of caramelized citrus peel, with amouth-watering acidity and chunky minerals. Panizzi is one of our favorites, and is a steal at around $20.
If you like Riesling, you will love Kerner.
We know what you are thinking, Riesling lovers.”How will I ever find, a light and luscious replacement for my dear Riesling?” Kerner has got you covered. It is one of our favorite underdogs; complex rich, ripe, and silky, with notes of baked pear, mango, combined with a racy acidity, and unctuous texture. Abazzia di Novacella is a classic (under $25).
If you like Pinot Grigio you will love Abymes de Savoie.
Pinot Grigio is nothing if not consistent: delicate acidity, fleshy citrus, and just a touch of flowers. If you love that soft, clean style of wine, then look no further than Abymes de Savoie. This wine hails from the French alps, and is as cool, clean, and refreshing as an alpine breeze. The native Jacquere grape is the perfect conduit for this region’s mountain soils. Domaine Labbe Abymes de Savoie is a perfect example.
If you like un-oaked Chardonnay, you will love off-beat French varieties.
The full and fleshy yet polished quality of an un or lightly oaked Chardonnay might seem inimitable, but in fact you have got options. The Loire valley is a treasure trove of amazing whites. While Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc tend to hog the spotlight, there is a little known grape that produces beautifully clean, smooth whites: Romorantin. However, you will never see this name on a label. This variety – a cousin of Chardonnay and Chablis doppleganger, only grows in one place in the Loire valley, a region called Cour-Cheverney. One of our favorite examples is the Cazin Cour-Cheverny: light, fresh, and minerally with lovely floral aromatics. Alsatian or Oregonian Pinot Blanc (The Ponzi Vineyards is fabulous) or Burgundian Aligotés like the Antoine Jobard Bourgogne offer equally enveloping, luscious experiences.
If you like Gewurtztraminer, you will love dry Muscats.
You might not think that you know this wine, but we promise you do. You know that sweet, slightly fizzy Moscato at every liquor store? It has a wicked sophisticated cousin called Muscat that resides in Italy, Germany, Spain, and France. It possesses all of Gewurtztraminer’s heady, hypnotic spicy aromatics, but with an unexpectedly austere presence on the palate. One of our favorites is Colterenzio Schreckbichl Moscato Giallo Pfefferer. It is a mouthful, but well worth it.
If you like Pinot Noir, you will love Pinot Meunier.
So you might have heard of this already, albeit in a very different context. This variety is most well-known as the third musketeer in the Champagne behind along with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Did you know that it makes delicious still red wines? Yep, neither do most people. Although it thrives in Champagne, new world producers are doing some stellar work with this lean, spicy variety. Check out the Domaine Chandon 2012 Pinot Meunier for an example.
If you like Chianti, you will love Barbera.
Chianti is our go-to wine for Italian food – we would be pressed to find anything that goes better with tomatoes. Yet sometimes you want something just a little more rich and ripe. Something that tastes equally good before, during, and after the meal, not just alongside it. Enter Barbera. This grape comes from the Piedmont, the land where the tannin-rich Nebbiolo and Dolcetto dominate the wine scene. Perhaps that is what makes Barbera so near and dear to our hearts: these wines are fresh, bright, and brimming with ripe cherry fruit, and just a hint of herbs de Provence spice. It can be grown anywhere in Piedmont, but thrives in Asti, where it is light and lean, and Alba, where it is plump and pretty. Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti (around $19) is a lunchtime fave at the Drync offices (yes, we drink wine at lunch. Yes, you should come and visit if you are in Boston). We also love the Vietti Tre Vigne Barbera d’Asti.
If you like Malbec, you will love Blaufrankish.
To us, Malbec is like the golden retriever puppy of wines: it is simply impossible not to love. But even Golden Retriever puppies can get to be a little much sometimes. That is when you need to switch it up to something a little more…sophisticated. That is where the Austrian gem Blaufrankish steps in. This variety has all of that beautiful black and blue fruit, warm earthiness, velvety tannins, and dark spice. Yet it is somehow….smoother… silkier… sleeker… and just more sophisticated. We think that Heinrich Blaufrankish is a great place to start.
If you like Syrah or Shiraz, you will love Nero d’Avola.
If you, like us, are a sucker for the bold spicy Syrah of the Northern Rhone, or the Shiraz of Barossa Valley, then Nero d’Avola is a no-brainer. It has the same rich ripe fruit, that punch of pepper, racy acids, and the savory elements to tie it all together. This grape rules the island of Sicily, and one sip leaves no doubt as to why. Cusumano is a Sicilian producer to know, and their Nero d’Avola is a steal at under $15
If you like dry Cabernet Sauvignon, you will love Aglianico.
Cabernet Sauvignon is by far the most popular grape variety among our users. It is also the most planted variety in the world, as it is super easy to grow. Unfortunately, it is really hard to find a terrific one at a reasonable price. If you love refined, structured cab, then Southern Italy’s Aglianico is a great one to try. These babies are bold and super tannic when young, which makes them awesome for cellaring (note to self – worth buying in bulk). Once they have matured a bit, they are beautifully balanced with ripe fruit, bright acids, and savory meaty flavors (bring on the grill!). Check out the Mastroberardino Aglianico or the Donnachiara Irpinia.
|Drync Marketing Manager Amy Ullman loves discovering new wines any which way she can.|
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