Most wine critics gravitate toward Bordeaux and Burgundy, places where they can compete for fame. While we love Bordeaux and Burgundy, all of us at Wine & Spirits have taken paths less traveled, turned on by great wines we can afford. It’s always been astonishing to us that wines so compelling could be virtually ignored, as wine drinkers flock to famous regions and respected names.
If you love to drink well, and inherited what a friend of mine calls “the cheapskate gene,” this is the issue to read and save.
Start with Asturias. Patricio Tapia, in love with the cool-climate wines of Galicia, has been hankering to visit Asturias for years. It’s right across the mountains, cozying up to the Cantabrian Sea, best known for sidra, little known for wine. Tapia explores the southwestern corner of Asturias in his feature for this issue, finding brisk red wines made from local grapes we’d never heard of before.
Head to Lebanon, where Jamal Rayyis has been scouting out autochthonous reds, only to find that cinsault and carignan have settled into the Beqaa Valley with their own Mediterranean take on the arid climate. The cinsault-based reds, in particular, brought back memories of the first great Lebanese red he’d tasted, in a nightclub in war-torn Damascus.
Then take a cross-country tour of the US, from Vermont to Texas to Washington State, visiting a new wave of Greek restaurants with Tara Q. Thomas. She’s spotted chefs who are re-creating the ethos of eating in Greece, using local foods and vetting all-Greek wine lists.
You can complete your journey in Oregon, home to a riesling phenomenon that David Schildknecht has been tracking for decades. The vine came to the Willamette Valley in the 1960s, settling in vineyards throughout the state, only to have been long forgotten until winemakers recently began to take notice of their old-vine assets. If you’ve caught onto riesling from the Finger Lakes and Washington State, Oregon may soon be in your sights.
There’s plenty of great summer eating and drinking to be found in this issue, some of it unexpected, all of it delicious.
photo by David Schildknecht