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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Best UNKNOWN Wines in the World:

If you come to our home there's a very good chance that you'll be served one of the following wines sometime during the course of your stay.  We do this purposely to introduce guests to varietals they may not know.   These under-the-radar wines can be complex and extremely well made.  As they are virtually unknown to most Americans, prices of all these wines are very fair…and will remain so until they are discovered and prices dramatically escalate.

1.      Mencia from Spain:  Only grown in Northwest Spain,  the Mencia grape was not even known to oenophiles in Spain ten years ago.  Now that wines made from Mencia have won so many gold medals in the country, Spanish consumers in-the-know are clamoring to get it.  The New York Times and Wall Street Journal have recently jumped on the Mencia bandwagon, so savy American wine lovers are now joining in.   We admire this varietal so much that we took our latest group to Spain to the area in which it is grown…the tour participants fell in love with the it.

2.   Carmenere from Chile:   This grape was brought from Bordeaux by French settlers 150 ago.  While it is impossible to find Carmenere in Bordeaux today  (all of the vineyards were wiped out in the late 19th century by the bug phylloxera), the varietal has thrived in Chile.  Thought to be a “distant cousin” of Merlot, it offers a terrific profile of cherries and spices.

   3.  Torrontes from Argentina:   Twenty per cent of all white wine sold in Argentina is Torrontes.   Characterized by distinctive peach and apricot aromas and taste, this velvety textured fruit-bomb is one of my fave summer wines.   Serve it at your next party and you’ll have a following of Torrontes converts who will love you for introducing the varietal to them.

   4.  Vermentino from Italy:    Want to be instantly transported to a seaside trattoria on the Mediterranean?  Pop the cork on a bottle of Vermentino and you’ll swear you could be on the Ligurian coast (North West Italy near Genoa) or the island of Sardenia.  Both of these areas produce the best renditions of this white wine. Bright melon and floral notes are layered with ripe stone fruit and a hint of citrus.  The perfect wine for a hot day on the Italian seashore…or in your backyard.

    5.  Touriga Nacional from Portugal:   In our recent Blog posting of July 30, we spoke of one of the wines from the Douro Valley (home of the famous Port wines) that was one of Wine Spectator’s Top Ten Wines in the World.  This wine was made from Touriga Nacional.   The varietal, used to make expensive Ports, is one of the most under-rated in the wine world.  It can make an intensely complex non-Port wine that oozes flavors of concentrated black fruits, and completes the deal with a killer finish.


  1. I love the idea of being able to drink a long lost Bordeaux varietal, Carmenere. I try to drink it when I can!

  2. I am so looking forward to your trip to Chile and Argentina in 2013 as I have just recently discovered Kitek's Torrontes. What a wonderful surprise! It is an absolutely delicious white white so light and fabulous when served with a light dinner on a warm summer evening!