New World Recommendations?

Hello all,

Mostly a lurker on the boards here. I have been predominantly drinking Old World wine and was wanting to start checking out more New World bottles. I usually try to stay in the $20-$50 range. I typically prefer red over white, although that has been starting to change more recently as I have been enjoying a lot of white burgundy. I have had a decent amount of American wines, but they are typically more in the “Grocery Store” umbrella (Louis Martini, Rombauer, etc.) Looking for some recommendations for starting off in the New World arena, but beyond the basic grocery store stuff. I see a lot of threads and posts about wine mailing list stuff like Rhys, Bedrock, etc. and I know they are apparently difficult to get on board with.

Any help greatly appreciated,


Tell us what city you live in and perhaps people can help you find local sources for tastings, etc.


Unfortunately I’m stuck in a fairly rural area- Southern Illinois. About 6 hours South of Chicago, 2 hours East of St. Louis. Seemingly no like minded folks in my area to taste with.

Well, then. Reading and buying online it is!

In that case, tell us about the wines you have liked, and how they could have been better. Also tell us what you haven’t liked and why.

I think the people who post here are the best tasting resource there is - better than the magazines.

As we get a feel for your palate, we can start to chime in.

Let us know grapes you like, etc…anything you’ve noticed about yourself.

Well I was brought up drinking a lot of red Southern Rhone and Provence. CDPs, CDRs, Bandols.
Lately, I have been experimenting with and enjoying the Syrah based stuff like Crozes-Hermitage, Saint-Joseph. I like how pronounced the kind of Olive/ non-fruit flavors are in them. I have been drinking them rather young though (2010-2012) and I know they tend to benefit a lot from aging. As for whites, I have had some Loire valley stuff I liked a lot, one in particular was a chenin blanc, François Chidaine Montlouis-sur-Loire Les Bournais. And lately have been digging some lower priced white burgundies, such as the Goisot Côtes d’Auxerre bottles. Haven’t had much from Germany, or Austria. I feel that Burgundy is largely unapproachable in my price range, although I have had a few decent bottles of Cru Beaujolais that are more in my range that I really liked for the simple, fresh and light profile.

Check out Calluna. I think they’d fit the Old World palate pretty well. I believe they have two reds in the $50 and under category.

You have some pretty good retailers and self-importers in Illinois: Binnys, Flickinger, Hart Davis Hart, to name three. Not sure what the retail shipping restrictions are into IL, but surely they can ship to you in state.

Wines you describe all sound great! Frankly, if that’s where your palate is, you can’t go wrong just staying there and continuing to explore around those wines. Chidaine makes half a dozen (or more) wines that you could sample. As a Vouvray fan myself, I also love Riesling, particularly dry (trocken), and for that more from Austria than Germany. At the lower end you could look for Gobelsburg “Gobelsburger” Riesling, which should come in under $20 and be very tasty, then explor up from there. If you like white Burgundy, there are still quite a few Bourgogne Blanc wines you can get around $20, plus or minus. 2012 is an excellent vintage for those wines. Same with 2012 Chablis, which is an outstanding vintage. Most of the “lesser” wines from Chablis in 2012 are very good to excellent.

Edmunds St John syrahs and gamay.


Evan, for new world syrah that aligns with what you prefer and describe, and Alan Rath can also add his two cents to what I am about to say…seek this producer for syrah.

Fantastic interpretation of syrah, using an old world approach with CA fruit. Love the wines.

Another vote for ESJ - I love the Unti Vnyd “Rocks and Gravel” which I think is under $30. There’s a lot of good Syrah being made in Sonoma for under $50. My personal favorite may be the Wind Gap Sonoma Coast bottling which is @$40

If you ever develop a taste for Zinfandel, you’ll be in good shape btwn $20-$50 in the Dry Creek Valley area of Sonoma. But maybe the most diverse and dependable reds in your price range come from Bedrock and you should be able to locate a few bottles if you try.

I’m in St. Louis and Bedrock is easily available at The Wine and Cheese Place if you ever make it over this direction.

Thanks for all the replies and suggestions! Plenty to add to the list. Ahhh so much still to try! I’m absolutely fascinated and excited by how much variety there is in the world of wine. I have been reading and learning as much as I can, but unfortunately I still feel limited and slowed down by not having people to share the interest with, although this website is certainly a fantastic resource.

I really appreciate all the feedback.

I’ve always thought that blended “mixed black” wines a.k.a. heritage wines or old-vine Zinfandel blends have a lot in common with Southern Rhone and the rustic reds from Provence. Substitute Zinfandel for Grenache and the blending grapes are basically the same cast of characters. That means the board darlings like Bedrock, Carlisle, and Ridge may fall right in your wheelhouse and are worth seeking out. Not coincidentally I think you’ll also find these wineries doing Syrah and other Rhone-style wines. You should be able to find any of these at retail/mail-order, with Ridge being the most widely distributed.

Wind Gap is a great suggestion for those olive flavors you sometimes get in cool-climate Syrah, and Sandlands will scratch that itch as well as Chenin, but tiny production and very popular, might be difficult to find.

Here’s two more that should be right in your wheelhouse

Actually, it’s been a few years since I had a Windgap syrah. I need to rectify that, particularly as they now have a tasting room in the new Barlow facility in Sebastopol. If Frank recommends the current wines, that’s enough for me.

I’ll add another California Syrah that fits your price range (nicely), and fits into the spectrum of wines you seem to prefer: Halcon.

Yo, Evan, what’s crackin? A few quick questions: What Old World regions do you like/drink outside of red Rhône and white Burgundy? Are you open to new grape varieties outside of what is grown in those two places? (not trying to steer you away from what you’re looking for, just trying to better understanding your palate)

Also, always trust your own palate. Have fun with it, and don’t listen to anyone who tells you what you “should and should not like”.


Laetitia Brut Rose for bubblies.

I haven’t tried it yet, but word on the street is that Cowan Cellars is making some aggressively rustic and backwards Pinot Noir [credit Tom Hill].

Another Tom Hill recommendation which I have never tried, but which is very intriguing, would be Tatomer [for Riesling and Gruner Veltliner].

For a very smooth but gentle and elegant take on Bordeaux varietals, look at Powers [and especially their work in the Champoux vineyard].

A $50 upper bound is going to prevent you from trying Arcadian, but that’s where I’d splurge at about $75.

And when you break the $100 barrier, look to Philip Togni [although Togni’s wines can require decades of patience before they really start to strut their stuff].

Also, give strong consideration to backfilling on old vintages of the Mondavi Reserve. For instance, the high-acid 1995 is still out there at less than $100:

Which is highway robbery by 2014 standards.

In fact, HDH up in Chicago is sitting on four bottles of the 1995 Mondavi Reserve for only $75 each:

With any luck, that should be an awesome Thanksgiving or Christmas wine at that price point.

2 years? oy vay. [cry.gif] I keep bugging Pax to come down and do a dinner in the OC and you can drink his wines up there on any weekend you like? [truce.gif] Enough with the Chenin…!

As soon as I read your preferences I thought Edmunds-St. John would be right up your alley. So +1 here, and it won’t break your pocketbook to find out if you agree!