Quick Sips — 05 June 2015
Sampling some less-known wines

By Bob Hosmon and Mark Gauert

One of the joys of tasting wines is discovering so many different wines from so many different countries.  If you’re sticking with the same favorite wines every time, it’s time you made some new friends.

The 2013 Le Charmel Muscadet Sèvre et Maine ($12) is produced from Melon de Bourgogne grapes grown in a single estate in the eastern part of the French Loire Valley, near the Atlantic town of Nantes. This delightful white shows aromas of pears and melons on the nose with a mineral taste in the mouth, all ending in a long crisp finish.  It’s a great aperitif wine, but also the perfect choice to serve with shellfish or goat cheese. – B.H.

Unlike their Spanish neighbors, the table wines of Portugal are not well known – but they truly deserve to be.  Do yourself a favor and pop open a bottle of the 2011 Esporao ($25).  It’s a red blend produced from four grape varietals (Aragones, Trincadeira, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Alicante Bouschet) that together deliver a creamy rich taste on the palate.  This red is a perfect complement to Yankee pot roast. – B.H.

Petite Sirah is not a well-known wine grape, but the 2012 Landy Vineyard Russian River Valley Petite Sirah ($42) could make it famous. Produced by the makers of Fulcrum pinot noirs, it’s an inky black wine that shows assertive flavors of blackberry in every sip.  It’s a wine that could be cellared for two decades or more, but if you don’t want to wait that long, enjoy it now with rib-eye steak or, my favorite, macaroni and cheese. – B.H.

The 2008 Nemea Reserve Ktima Driopi from Cava Spilladis ($25) is produced from Agiorgitiko grapes grown in Nemea, a renowned wine area near the town of Corinth. (The area is also known for the Greek myth of Hercules and the Nemean lion).  This full-bodied Greek red delivers a rich, lingering finish on the palate and pairs perfectly with rack of lamb cooked with garlic and rosemary. – B.H.

While South Africa is well known for Chenin Blancs, the next largest portion of the nation’s vast vineyard system is actually devoted to Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The next time you’re looking for something different in a Cab, consider the 2014 Deep River from House of Mandela, an attractively priced ($15) alternative – with all the blackcurrant and vanilla boldness – to some of the better known Cab growing areas. (Of course if you must have a South African Chenin Blanc, HoM’s refreshingly citrusy 2014 Deep River Chenin/Blanc/Chard (produced, like the Cab, in the Breedekloof and Swartland region) will more than ably fill your expectations, and your glass). – M.G.


Photo: Tukwini Mandela, granddaughter of Nelson Mandela, visited Miami recently to talk about her family’s House of Mandela wines.


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