"Exotic" to us is "home" to someone else, yet there is an excitement when we taste wines from grapes that often aren’t familiar, made in wine regions that a few years ago we knew little about — the north coast of African, sub-Alpine Italy, the interior of Portugal, the wetlands of western Spain.
Here are a dozen that are quite varied in their grapes and flavors.
2011 Ouled Thaleb Moroccan white blend ($15). The blend isn’t a familiar one — faranah and clairette — but the taste is somewhat like a sauvignon blanc, but more fragrant. There is apple and quince fruitiness with a light sweetness in the finish.
2012 Alvaro Castro "DAC" Dao white ($14). From an old Portuguese winemaking region, the grapes are all indigenous — bical, cercial, and encruzado — and the combination is quite nice. There are dark peach, mellow apple, and kiwi notes in the flavor blend.
2011 Quinta da Giesta Dao white. More encruzado here, but the partner is malvasia fina. The wine is creamy and a little bit flabby, though it has a good tropical fruit finish with hints of skin tannins.
2011 Quinta da Nespereira Dao "Vineaticu" ($13). Blend of verdelho and encruzado. Full, with flavors of exotic fruits, mellow apples, and tart apple skins, the wine has a lot of minerality and good acidity. It would pair well with pork and chicken prepared simply.
2012 Adrian "Floreado" Alto Adige sauvignon blanc ($21). A delightful wine with big peachy flavors, yet lively and clean with an overlay of pungent kiwi and boxwood accents.
NV Piccini "Memŏro" vino bianco d’Italia ($10). Fairly assertive with an oily unctuousness with some tart apple and metallic notes.
2012 Castro Martin "A2O" Rias Baixas albariño ($16). Vibrant and edgy green fruit — lots of tart berries and apples. A touch of creaminess keeps it from being too severe. Nice body, long on the palate.
2012 Laxas Rias Baixas albariño ($16). Very fragrant, creamy, lightly sweet lemon-lime notes — like an alcoholic soda for adults without the bubbles.
2012 Mar de Frades Rias Baixas albariño ($21). Fragrant and cider-like flavors, spicy, with a full body and a peppery acid finish.
NV Pazo Baron Rias Baixas albariño ($19). Well-structured, with aromas and flavors of marinated citrus. Pleasant with a tangy note at the finish.
2012 Pazo Señorans Rias Baixas albariño ($22). A very spicy wine — white pepper and fragrant baking spices — blended in with ripe apple flavors.
2012 Santiago Ruiz Rias Baixas O Rosal ($20). A break from the all-albariños, the wine also has loureiro and a touch of treixadura. Pleasant, a little fuller, good apple notes and a minerally underlay.