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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.)