Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On The Alternative Side

Have you been drinking a lot of the same wines? Perhaps you're ready for a change of pace to get out of the rut of the ordinary and usual. Maybe you want to do a little upgrade to your regular selection or want something a little more special and unique? Here are some alternative choices to consider (click on the pictures for a better look):

Alternatives to Pinot Noir - Two reasons we love pinot noir are the light to medium body and the great aromatics. For another light red you could try Antoine Pouponneau "L'escale" Anjou 2009 ($14.99). 100% gamay from the Loire, it has great fresh red fruits with just a touch of tannin and mineral in the background. A great food wine, this will go with anything from sandwiches, to burgers, and fish. Additionally, a wine with superb aromatics is the Gumphof Sudtiroler Vernatsch Alto Adige 2009 ($17.99). From northern Italy, it's very light and pretty with an interesting savory overtone, a super wine with great interest at it's price.

Alternatives to Rioja - We can look to Ribera Del Duero for a darker and fuller version of the tempranillo grape, known by the local name tinto fino or tinta del pais. For dark berry fruit and balanced tannins, try a wine made from 60 year old vines, the Milcampos Vinas Viejas Ribera Del Duero 2009 ($14.99). If you'd like a little fresh plum/cherry fruit in a smooth package with a dab of toasty oak, try the Traslascuestas Ribera Del Duero Roble 2009 ($16.99). Both wines are great with red meat or chicken, especially if you are still cooking on the grill.

Alternatives to Cotes Du Rhone - This one is easy, like hitting an A.J. Burnett fastball in the 5th inning. There are a lot of choices here and two of my favorites are Chateau Massiac Minervois 2008 ($14.99) and Domaine De Nidoleres "La Raphaelle" Cotes Du Roussillon 2008 ($17.99). What they have in common is that they are from areas near the Rhone and use the typical grapes from the south of France: grenache, syrah, carignan, and mourvedre. While both are full bodied, the Minervois is more peppery and the Rouissillon is dense, earthy, and elegant. If we have a cool, autumnal evening it's great to try one with a slow cooked braised meat or stew.

Alternative to Chianti - Vercesi Del Castellazzo "Pezzalunga Rosso" Oltrepo Pavese 2010 ($14.99) is a great choice here. Made from a unique combination of barbera, bonarda, and the rarely seen uva rara, this has beautiful tangy cherry notes and a touch of menthol in the finish. It's interesting, different, and delicious.

Alternative to Barolo and Barbaresco - Do you love these two great wines from Piedmont? Do you desire that rare combination of elegance and grace, the ethereal aromas of roses and cinnamon kissed with ripe cherries? Well, from a little further north in the Valtellina comes a wine that can be had at a fraction of the price. Sandro Fay Sassella 2007 ($22.99) is 100% nebbiolo and has great typicity and complexity. Crisp fresh cherries are on the palate wrapped in hints of tarry earth, tobacco, and mint. This is a special wine at an affordable price.



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