Which variety to bring for friend who wants something adventurous?

Tomorrow night we’re having dinner with a friend who has a stunning palate, but she’s relatively new to wine. She’s never seen a tasting note and yet describes wine like a 30-year veteran writer.

She’s almost entirely been drinking and tasting Bordeaux varieties.

She’s asked us to bring a bottle of something “new.” That could mean CdP, or Carmenere, or Nebbiolo in some iteration, or Aglianico, or, well, anything that’s not a Bordeaux variety.

Budget is roughly $70. Ideas?

A dry Portuguese made with traditional Port grapes
Carmenère or Petit Verdot

To answer this question, we have to know what’s available to you on short notice.
You appear to be in the Finger Lakes; why not something from your area?
If not, I have a huge number of suggestions but have no idea if you can get them.
Best, Jim

Jim -

Good points.

The friend is working in the FLX wine industry, and beyond Bordeaux we make some Blau. She’ll eventually be a very good winemaker thanks to her palate alone.

I’m in Rochester and I was considering a handful of ideas: Movia Ribolla, a variety of CdPs from '00 to '07, and a variety of Barolo and Barbaresco. Fortunate to have some decent outlets and a half-decent cellar.

Thanks and cheers.

A nebbiolo with a little age on it should be a nice change; the ribolla another whole level of different. I am not a CdP fan so will leave that for others.
For an interesting experiment, pick a Barolo and a Barbaresco that you feel are good examples and that show the differences of those to areas. Learn and enjoy, all at the same time.
Best, Jim

A tokaji might be interesting.
A Portuguese wine.
A wine with mainly Cinsault/Carignanne.

Luckily all of these can be found below $70 a bottle…all three can total below $70.

cali/oregon syrah! a good zin!

Older Lopez de Heredia White!

What styles of wines does she normally like? That would guide my purchase I think. If its big fat Napa Cabs for instance then made a more modern CdP would be appropriate or a big Cali Pinot. More traditional aged Bordeaux could bring in lots of interesting options.


We have several in the cellar, and I simply love this idea.

I’ll support the suggestion of some kind of ready to drink nebbiolo. An older Heredia white could be cool, but it seems too “geeky” to me for someone who’s not too experienced, regardless of how sharp their palate is.

She could rival Alice Feiring for sensitivity to new oak. Holding off on CA…

Ok cool. I like the Piedmont suggestions then or a red Rioja.


So many options, but three jumped to mind:

d’Yquem or another Sauternes (my guess is this isn’t the Bordeaux variety she’s been trying)
A Cali Viognier
Aged vintage Champagne

White: Loire (chenin blanc)
Nicolas Joly culee de serrant from Savennieres

Red: Languedoc (syrah)
Domaine de l`Aiguelière, Montpeyroux either cuvee, the cote rousse is the more complex, imho.

Both of these are eye opening wines.

I think for someone who has been drinking mostly Bordeaux, something like duras from Gaillac could be a neat grape to try.

Love the Lopez idea too.

Or, try getting her hooked on one of the world’s other truly great wine categories- like a an outstanding Burgundy or German riesling- you may get to be there when the ‘light comes on’ for her with one of those.

Great point on the Riesling, and I should have been more clear. Making wine in the Finger Lakes, our soils and sites are suited to one thing in particular: Riesling. My friend and I have gotten together for verticals of Mosel and Rheingau dating back 30 years; she’s a true convert. Most of her production and tasting is of Bordeaux varieties, but Riesling is the leader here.

Love your initial idea - thanks and cheers.

The first option is miles beyond tomorrow night’s budget. On the second, CA instead of Condrieu? Third is outstanding; I remember my first, which was the light-bulb moment and also the moment when I realized I couldn’t drink the in-laws constant flow of swill…