Much of the wine we drink is made from the so-called “international varieties.” Even though they have places of origin, they have become so well-accepted that they are grown almost in every country; that’s not a bad or a good thing, but just a fact of drinking wine.
While this familiarity can help us sort through the tens of thousands of different wines on the market, sometimes it’s interesting to try something different, something we don’t taste or even see on the shelves every day.
Here are a half-dozen such wines I recently tasted:
2011 Pfaffl Altenberg Niederösterreich St. Laurent Reserve (Double Magnum) ($162)
Very enjoyable as a food wine, a tad like a merlot with enjoyable cherry flavors and firm tannins.
2011 Château La Colombière Fronton “Coste Rouge” ($14)
Enjoyable red berry flavors backed up by dark raspberry tastes; full, lightly spicy, unfiltered.
2011 Château La Colombière Fronton “Vinum” Negrette ($10)
I love this grape, and I love this wine, especially at the price. It has a raspy spiciness and is a touch gamey, a little like a fresh sangiovese without the tannins. My “Pick of the Litter.”
2011 Stinson Monticello Tannat ($32)
Just out of the bottle, it has tastes of splintery oak and unripe fruit; very tart cherries with some green notes. This is a winery on the rise, I think, but this one doesn’t help its reputation.
2011 Tormaresca Puglia “Neprica” ($11)
A blend of local and international varieties, it has bright acidity with ripe purple fruits, a few savory notes and light tannins — very satisfying.
2009 Mas Belles Eaux Languedoc “Les Coteaux” ($19)
A blend of Rhône varieties, it has jammy black fruits, touches of syrah earthiness and road tar, and good minerality. Still tight, so it can profit from a little aging.