By Maggie Walters
I think it's pretty evident by now that I love wines off the beaten path. I like to swim against the flow and I love sharing my finds with anyone who is interested. Maybe it's my farming roots, but I love a good story from vineyard to bottle too! I wanted to share some wines that I think are "geek worthy" and not necessarily with a budget in mind (if you want to check out my budget picks check out Vol. 1, Vol. 2 and Vol 3).
I know I'm not the only one who seeks out these not-so-well-known wines, and sometimes they can be hard to find. Here are a few wines you should check out that are hidden amongst the other bottles that really stand out!
2016 Sparkling Malvasia Bianca
Suisun Valley, California
In the wine world these are referred to affectionately as "pét nats". These are all the rage in the blogger and wine magazine community, and I always try to get my hands on one when I travel outside of state, but now we have one in our market!
What makes it different from other wines is the method of carbonation. It's sparkling, but not like a Champagne. Champagne gets its bubbles from two fermentations; pét nat (which translates to naturally sparkling), on the other hand, only goes through one. Yeast from the singular fermentation is kept in-bottle and carbonation is trapped in-bottle with a crown cap. This is actually how sparkling wine was made back in the day before the Champagne method was ever discovered. So it's super old school and is coming back into style. Leaving the yeast in-bottle makes the wine a little cloudy, earthy and funky. This, in combination with the Malvasia grape (an Italian white grape) that expresses some of the most aromatic floral notes, creates this almost jasmine tea aroma. Give it a try, it will be unlike any sparkling wine you've experienced before (unless you're already on the bandwagon like I am!)
Rosé Brut Reserva
2013 Cava Sparkling Wine
First off--yes, I am writing about two sparkling wines. It took some real restraint to not write about a third (there will be a grower's Champagne featured in my next blog), but that is neither here nor there, lets talk Cava! Cava is a sparkling wine from Spain. Most of its production comes from a region called Catalunya, located just on the other side of the Pyrenees Mountains that share residence with both Spain and France. I think there is so much value to be had with wines from this part of the world. This one in particular really mixed it up with the grape varieties! Traditionally, Cava is made with three grapes: Xarello, Parellada, and Macabeo. This Rosé Cava is made from a completely different blend of Monastrell (which is Spanish for Mourvèdre), Garnacha, and Pinot Noir. I love trying wines with Mourvèdre in the mix. I find that it adds another layer of complexity with the addition of an earthy undertone, quite nice in this wine, with the red fruit profile presented from the other two red grapes!
2015 Gruner Veltliner
I feel like Austria is a country that doesn't get enough attention for its wines. They make red and white wines in serious and soft styles, and carry very sophisticated names with them like Blaufränkisch and Zweigelt. Their #1 grape variety in production and prestige is Gruner Veltliner... "Gruner" for short in the wine world. This is a high acid white wine that's great to have on hand for nibbles and dinner. I think cool climate high acid white wines are miracle workers with the most difficult of food pairings (even Asian and Indian food). Wachau is a very prestigious area in Austria for Gruner (a sub region of Neiderösterreich) and is grown on steep south facing slopes that require hand picking. Talk about some serious TLC! You get both fruit and minerality with this grape, the best of both worlds!
Seven Hills Vineyard
Walla Walla Valley, Washington
92 points, Cellar Selection – Wine Enthusiast
Oh, Washington state red wines!! Definitely something that is very close to me, both at heart and on the dinner table, but not so popular in our market (at least not yet!) In Arkansas we LOVE us some Napa Cabs! Seriously! We are the top consuming Napa Cab market in the entire US (we don't mess around with our red wines). I think Washington is the next frontier to be discovered. They make big delicious reds like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah that are layered in complexity and are just as age worthy (I have a couple bottles of this Merlot laying down in the bottom of my closet that I'm trying to forget about for the next 10 years). These wines cost about $50 but drink like $200. If you're just starting a cellar or are continually adding to a well established cellar, this is a wine worth checking out! Coming from Walla Walla (it's so nice they say it twice), winemaker Casey McClellan has been tilling these fields since he planted the vines with his father in 1988. This specific site that they chose in Walla Walla is called Red Mountain, and is the smallest, warmest and most renowned vineyard site in the state of Washington. The potential for world class wines out of this region is being recognized, written and talked about in the wine community (which is good to get the name out but eventually will drive the prices up). So discover this region and grab you some bottles before the price gets too high!
I hope that this has been interesting and has inspired you to try something new and different! There are so many wines out there worth discovering, it's my passion to uncover some of them for you!
All sizes and vintages are in stock at the time of publication. In the event advertised vintages sell out, substitute vintages may be offered at the same price. Products and prices are subject to change.