What lesser know regions/appellations should I drink in 2011

Some of my every day drinker discoveries in 2010 included:

  • A really chalky, seashell style South African Sauv Blanc
  • A really nicely lean, acidic red Sancerre(pinot) with nice minerally elements. Great QPR versus red burg or new world pinot.
  • One or two nicely acidic and balanced Chilean chards
  • Some nice, acidic Aussie dry rieslings that combine tart citrus with petrol and a bit of tropical creaminess.
  • Some nice cheap, dry Languedoc reds that show nice balance.
  • Carmenere with some nice earthiness and acidity.

In 2011, what should I be on the lookot for if I like interesting wines with balance, nice acidity, minerality, pit fruits, chalk, DRY, tart citrus - lemon, lime, blood orange, not-honeyed, etc.

I haven’t gotten into off-dry Loire or riesling. What should I be looking at:

  • Interesting italian reds or white? Etna/Nero? Negroamaro?
  • Dry Alto Adige whites?
  • Jura?
  • Spanish whites that don’t tast like apple juice like some Albarinos can?
  • Languedoc whites?
  • Balanced white burg/chablis/loire style knockoffs from anywhere?
  • Very cool climate CA or OR chards/whites?

Any thoughts?

For your off-dry wines, German Kabinett or some Alsatian Riesling or Pinot Gris. White Bordeaux is an area I’m looking forward to exploring. From Spain Txakolina( actually Basque) has really blown me away, as well as white Rioja generally Viura and Malvasia and not apple juicey at all.

I have really enjoyed finding some good vdp’s. I’ll see a 100% Marsanne from Provence for $10 or so and grab three bottles and have had tremendous luck.

My exploration is dry reds from Portugal and Mencia from Spain this year. I’ve bought a bunch, but only tried one so far.

Keep us updated on your journey. Post TN’s.

Hi Rich,

If you are after serious dry reds then you might want to score some Bandol. The best are boldly structured with ample fruit and really good minerality/vineyard character which sets them up to age with remarkable grace, becoming distinctly lovely scented beauties when mature. I would suggest Château Pradeaux if you want the bleeding edge of tough Bandol experience, they are great fighting wines when young but will age 20-odd years. Domaine Gros Nore make slightly softer and more accessible wines but they age a treat as well. The two producers that were historically my favourites, Domaine Tempier and Château Pibarnon, have rather lost the plot in recent years and are to be viewed with suspicion. However, if you can find bottles of them from 2000 or earlier snap them up. I like Bandol for its heroism, age-worthiness, complexity and moderate prices.

If I were you I’d skip Italian whites. I am sure I’ll be taken to task for this, but in my view the vast majority of Italian whites stretch the boundaries of insipid blandness. There are a very few that deliver pleasure, but most are anodyne filth.

I quite like Txakolina, it may not be terribly sophisticated but you can feel it doing you good as it fizzes in your stomach.

Good luck with your quest and do report back.


Thanks. I’ll have to explore Bandol and try some non-albarino spanish whites. I think I need to try more Loire Cab Francs (and pinots if I can find them).

Well I agree with the Txakolina rec. I do think there are some Italian whites that sertainly are worth drinking. If you like more cut, look to the north. If you like fuller and rounder, look to Campagna. Not sure how much Muscadet you have had. Look for Peppierre and Luneau Papin, and they age better than you might think.

For reds, look to southern Italy. Some very interesting stuff being made all over the south and good pricing. Aglianico, Sangiovese, and a bunch from Sicily. And the pricing is still fair.

Finally, I love reading the David Schildknechts recs from the Rhone and Languedoc for value wines.

Assume you’re allready drinking classic Riojas, right? I fell in love with them last year and the prices are amazing for the wine and blt age. Dusty tanins with pretty Burgundian weight.

I would say Siciliy, but go for Nerello Mascalese instead of Nero d’Avola. Look for wines with high percentages of Nerello Cappuccio.

On a side note of obscure for you, I had a really nice wine from the Canary Islands a while back may be worth looking into the region for your lesser known fix.

Rich - lesser known to whom?

My advice is that if you don’t know much about a region and you have a chance to learn about the region, take it. If you go by posts on this board, you would think that Burgundy produces most of the wine in the world and it’s the best-known region. It doesn’t and it isn’t.

There are regions that I don’t know much about and other regions that I know a little more about but someone else may not know at all. No reason to select one area and discount another. Thus, if you don’t know much about the wines from Anjou for example, and you don’t know much about the wines from Umbria, don’t decide on one over the other, try them both. To the people who know the regions and maybe even love the wines, they aren’t lesser-known at all. Same with places and D.O.s like Kremstal, Yecla, Sopron, Jura, Leelenau, Abona, El Hierro and elsewhere. Just keep drinking wine from as many regions as you can.

Just my 2 cts. Cheers and good luck!

Rich - Since you mentioned negroamaro I would suggest you try one of the Taurino wines. They are general best on the first day of opening. Also try some non-Barolo and -Barbaresco nebbiolos with Gattinara or Langhe designations. On the white side see if you can find a well made soave classico or arneis…Gary


Ribeira Sacra

Offida Peccorino

I am not sure where you are located and if you have ever tried any of our wines from down here in the south of Spain. We are in the DO Granada and make a nice, dry acidic white from a grape brought to our area by the Phoenicians called Vijiriega.

Red Sancerre makes me think Arbois… lively, red fruit driven Pinot-type character

a white in your wheelhouse: Muscadet


I ran across this old thread the other day.

Craig, can you name two or three Rioja houses you’d refer the uninitiated to as an introduction?

Likewise, Roger, Ribeira Sacra? Prices for these wines seem to have risen rapidly, according to my (admittedly sketchy) records.

I would start here:

Lopez de heredia
Cune imperial

These are widely available and considered references for the region. There are plenty of other great older Rioja’s, but if you don’t like these…you probably don’t like older Rioja.

Etna wines are some of the most cutting edge wines in the world right now. And Northern Piedmont is another area that most seem to miss. Carema, Lessona, Gattinara and Costa della Sesia.

I’ve loved every D. Ventura Ribeira Sacra I’ve tried. And their prices are pretty low.

2007 D. Ventura Ribeira Sacra Viña do Burato - Spain, Galicia, Ribeira Sacra (4/18/2013)
These Ventura wines have a distinct nose in my experience - is it the Mencia grape itself, the Ribeira Sacra region, or the winery’s touch? Beautiful and complex nose that a well-bred, expensive French wine would not be ashamed of - dark earth, leaves, high-toned black fruit with deep, grapey bass tones. And if you believe the bottle’s back label, all these aromas are from the grape itself as it ferments in steel and goes straight to bottle. Amazing, and Addy Bassin’s orange price sticker? $14.99! Medium-bodied and blessed with a textured mouth-feel, this wine would not weave an elegant, smooth tapestry but instead knit a warm wool blanket. Ripe black fruit on the attack, plenty of acidity defining the mid-palate, and spicy tannins form the lengthy finish. (91 pts.)

2009 D. Ventura Ribeira Sacra Pena do Lobo - Spain, Galicia, Ribeira Sacra (3/10/2013)
Oh so delicious and fresh. The nose is spirit-lifting, a savory and sweet, dark brew of raw beef, plum, and earth. The palate is lively and ripe with generous amounts of dark fruit and a smooth, stony mouthfeel. A long finish of pure, silky grape tannin - the wine was fermented in steel tank - completes the deal. (91 pts.)

2007 D. Ventura Ribeira Sacra Vina Caneiro - Spain, Galicia, Ribeira Sacra (6/8/2012)
Thank you, Eric Asimov! Love this wine everytime I drink it. Nose of mashed sour cherries and rich loam; long-lasting bouquet with eventual spicy notes expressing the alcohol. In the mouth, the wine sneaks up, starting softly, building to ripe fruit, climbing higher to an acid peak; finally sledding down a run of spice recalling the last notes of the bouquet. Would love to see this wine develop beyond its primary characteristics. (90 pts.)

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Thanks, Doug; these wines are still reasonably-priced, too, and available in D.C.