According to “Wine Grapes” by Jancis Robinson there are over 10,000 varieties of wine grapes that exist in the World. Add to that about 200 types of styles that each of those varieties could convey, and this leaves us with approximately 2 millions forms that wine might take and this is not taking into account the particular winemaker’s distinct touch & technique… The struggle is real, a choice of a good wine bottle might be overwhelming indeed.
That is why, here, we prepared 6 simple know-hows to showcase how to find a good quality wine at a reasonable price without being intimidated or disoriented by all those possibilities:
- If one opts for a famous wine producing region there is a simple rule to follow: Well-known, gifted producers often make excellent wine even in lesser vintages, just as, in outstanding years, it’s relatively safe to go for something not as famous, lesser known. This way one might discover a new upcoming star of the region before the producer became famous and his or her prices went up.
For instance: Cuvée Antonin, Domaine Galeyrand, 2013 located in Gevrey Chambertin, Jérôme Galeyrand owns 5 ha spread between Marsannay and Comblanchien (South of Nuits St Georges). Jancis Robinson hailed Jerome as one of the new up and coming stars of Burgundy, naturally we were curious to try and shared it with you.
- Interestingly enough, for Switzerland another rule applies: it gives birth to the World most expensive low quality wines and the World cheapest great wines. The particular conditions of Swiss wine production such as challenging locations of the vineyards, high cost of labor, diverse (often lesser known) grape varieties make the production of cheap wines here very complex. Therefore, the best solution would be to focus on quality over quantity! To experiment effectively one should keep in mind:
- Indigenous grape varieties are pure gems: Indigenous or native grape variety is the one, which is historically local to the particular are of production. In 20s century many of such unique grapes were replaced with “international” ones like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, in order to appeal to larger audience. It’s tragic for diversity and history, therefore right now, when winemakers try to revive those ancient varietals they cost less because they are less marketed, therefore it’s a great bargain. Moreover, “what grows together goes together”, thus indigenous grapes usually match ideally with the dishes of the region they are native to.
Bodegas Vina Ijalba was one of the first wineries to stand up for native minority grapes of Rioja. They were the very first to make a single variety, 100 % Maturana Blanca. You can find here. It goes great with roasted vegetables and chestnut croquetas!
- It is simply more rewarding to buy wines from artisanal producers rather than from large merchants. The latter ones do not produce their own grapes but buy if from various growers, quality of such fruit can vary drastically. The same applies to very large producers, who use a lot of machinery in the vineyards as well as in the winery at times. It is a matter of attention to the details and dedication that small producers invest into each and every bottle.
- Not all that glitters is gold. Medals and attractive labels might be very deceiving. Don’t be put off by lesser marketed wines, sometimes the beauty hides behind the unattractive covers. At times those wines are simply less commercialized.
White, Domain Mega Spileo, 2014 comes from Peloponeese, Greece, there you enjoy a glass of Asyrtiko (its native grape) on a sunny day with some olives and orange peel marinated feta cheese. You can easily recreate this vibe by the Lake during the fist warm Spring days.
- Raise of Eastern Europe: it’s time to pay attention to the Balkan & Eastern European countries which are reinventing their, in fact, ancient tradition of winemaking. The wine production in such countries as Hungary, Croatia and Serbia was quantity oriented during the soviet years. However, it’s been a while now since enthusiastic and young winemakers in those countries are conquering international markets with genuinely good wines.
In fact, Heumann, Lagona, 2013 is made by a Swiss couple who twenty years ago fell in love with Villány wine region in Hungary, took a risk and moved there to produce wine. Romantic isn’t it? Their red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Blaufrankisch convey their passion for wine and adventurism.
When it comes to life … and wine it is always important to leave your comfort zone from time to time. Because if you take a risk and try new styles or origins you might discover something truly beautiful and out-of-ordinary in your glass!