Do you ever get tired of the same glass of wine every Friday after a hard week of work? Instead of the usual Merlot, Shiraz or Chardonnay, choose a Tannat, Baco Noir or Barbera.
Why select one of these unusual varietals? Many of them are high in quality and low in price to attract customers. The only drawback is deciding which wine to choose, because you don't want to risk your hard-earned dollars on a dud. So I have made a list of some of my favourite selections that over-deliver for the price. These wines are available at most BC Liquor stores and selected private stores around the Lower Mainland.
Tannat is a red-wine grape that originates in France and was exported to South America, Australia and other regions around the globe. The traditional Tannat from France can be quite tannic and rustic, but modern wine-growing and crafting in Uruguay and Argentina have resulted in a wine full of smooth, attractive fruit flavors. Coming in at $14 a bottle, Las Moras Reserve Tannat, hailing from Argentina, displays a dark purple-black brooding color with a blackberry-laced and slight oak flavor. Add the complexity of mocha and eucalyptus aromas and you get a generous concentrated firm palate with quite a long finish.
Tempranillo is a grape many wine consumers have not heard about but have probably drank at some point. It is the grape that makes Rioja a famous wine and region in Spain. Tempranillo is a higher acid wine that has been aged for a time, so it is an easy drinking wine that matches well with a variety of foods. One of the best bargains on the market for $13 is the seven-year aged 2003 Anciano Tempranillo Gran Reserva from Spain. Its attractive red berries and silky, spice and savoury flavors are impressive in flavour concentration and long finish.
Across the Atlantic in the land of vines is another lesser known grape. Barbera is actually the third-most planted vine in Italy. The best versions originate from the DOCG appellation of Barbera d'Asti. Typical Barbera shows fresh and dried red and black berry flavors and is oaked in toasted barrels for a short period of time. It's the ultimate easy gulping wine with a balanced alcohol level around 14 per cent. Several producers are found on shelves here in B.C., but you can't beat Barbera d'Asti Ricossa for quality and price. Ricossa is a soft and fleshy wine with a blend of fruit, floral and vegetal-like flavours. Fleshy tannins and a balanced medium body result in a wine you could enjoy on any occasion.
These are three underrated grapes that the wine consumer has forgotten in the rush to pick the nearest Merlot from the shelf. The next time you're at your local wine shop, slow down a bit and find one of these undiscovered values for yourself.
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