Mention Tuscany and everyone thinks red wine. But the region also makes some lovely, fun-to-drink whites that are usually quite inexpensive. I personally love the vermentinos and especially the ansonica wines of Elba and the Tuscan Coast, but inland Tuscany is also home to the delightful and ever-improving Vernaccia di San Gimignano (this is the name of both the grape and the wine) and to a few interesting chardonnays and viogniers too. READ MORE »
Spanish wine aficionados know that Priorat is the source of many of the country’s greatest, rarest and most expensive red wines, with numerous bottlings cruising well past the $100 mark. For my money, a number of the best Priorat wines are worth the tariff, as they display a remarkable interplay of power and mineral-driven vibrancy that’s rare to find anywhere. Unfortunately, though, many Priorat wines fail to live up to the region’s reputation, so savvy wine drinkers have been turning to the wines of Montsant, whose vineyards almost completely surround the smaller Priorat appellation. READ MORE »
Why should you care? South Africa can’t hold a candle to New Zealand when it comes to the sheer volume of sauvignon blanc produced, or the number of good choices available to consumers. And yet the handful of elite sauvignons made in South Africa frequently strike me as more distinctive and layered, not to mention less herbal. In recent years, Downes Family Vineyards (called Shannon Vineyards in the local South African market) has produced one of the most satisfying and complex examples of all, from the cool-climate Elgin region of the Cape.
What does it taste like? The 2013 Sanctuary Peak Sauvignon Blanc Elgin Valley, which includes 11% semillon vinified with wild yeasts and aged briefly in new French oak, offers a cornucopia of scents, ranging from lemon drop, peach skin and chlorophyll to more exotic papaya and lanolin. It’s concentrated, tactile and creamy, conveying an impression of thickness without any excess weight. A piquant pink grapefruit quality leavens its hint of floral sweetness. The lightly musky finish features excellent subtle length and lift and an exhilarating sugar/acid balance that brought me back for more. My score: 91 points.
How much does it cost, and where can you find it? ($24; Southern Starz)
Classic non-oaked sauvignon blancs from New Zealand, especially those from Marlborough, are crisp and bracing, with flavors of gooseberry and grapefruit pith complicated by fresh-cut grass, nettles and fresh herbs. When these subtly green components work together harmoniously and are supported by sufficient ripeness of fruit, they make for exhilarating, wonderfully refreshing wines. READ MORE »