Tour of Europe in economy class

Tour of Europe in economy class


New year, new resolutions. One of mine is to drink only wines that give me real pleasure; at best, an emotion. After all, life is too short to frequent soulless wines, right?

The best part is that this pleasure is within reach; in all price ranges and to all horizons, even among the classic European regions. Want to broaden the palette of flavors in your wine cellar? You may find your happiness with lesser-known grape varieties such as Sylvaner, Loureiro, Freisa, Kadarka or Bobal. From northern Portugal to southern Hungary, here are five to start the year 2023 in exploratory mode.

Cheers, happy new year! 

Enologica del Oleana , Valencia 2020, Calabuig, Bobal Old Vines

★★★ | $ | $12.95 | Spain 12.5% ​​| Organic

Not so long ago, Bobal was considered a commoner grape variety from which serious wines could not be made. Climate change obliges, several Spanish winegrowers find a new ally in this variety which retains a significant natural acidity, even at full maturity. The altitude (900 m), the age of the vines and the calcareous nature of the soils allow Sebastián Mancebo to produce a fleshy, vigorous and crunchy bobal, full of flavors of black fruits and peppery nuances. At $12.95, this organic red offers much more than the customer wants. 

SAQ code: 14189932 

Anselmo Mendes, Vinho Verde 2021, Loureiro, Muros Antigos

★★★ | $1⁄2 | $15.90 | Portugal 12% 

The Loureiro grape is truly at its best in the Lima Valley (its place of origin), a sub-region located northwest of Vinho Verde. The grapes that make up Anselmo Mendez's entry-level Loureiro come from plots facing south, but cradled by the cool winds blowing in from the Atlantic coast. We find in the 2021 the usual nervousness and saline notes, to which are added the subtle floral and lemony notes of the grape variety. A safe bet with a white fish carpaccio. 

SAQ code: 12455088 

Borgogno, Pinin 2020 , Langhe Rosso

★★★1⁄2 | $$ | $20.95 | Italy 13.5%

Borgogno is one of the oldest houses in Piedmont. Classic wines are produced there at good prices. This red Langhe is based on a blend of Dolcetto (70 %) and Freisa, an indigenous grape variety of the region, too little known, in my opinion. The pale color and the fruitiness of the 2020 suggest a light wine, but under its supple attack, the Pinin reveals quite firm tannins, which leave a slightly astringent sensation on the finish, coupled with a very digestible liveliness. Tasty and satisfyingly fresh. To be enjoyed with braised meat. 

SAQ Code : 14102403 

Les Vins Pirouettes, Alsace 2020 , Tutti Frutti

★★★1⁄2 | $$ | $22.60 | France 12.5%

Pirouettes is a collective. Christian Binner and his associates travel through Alsace and meet winegrowers registered in an organic (and biodynamic) approach, to whom they offer to try the experience of natural winemaking, without inputs or SO2. This blend of Riesling, Sylvaner and Pinot Blanc is a little less exuberant and “ tutti frutti ” in 2020. More sober, but just as nice, the wine is lively, open and very well built on the palate, with a nice finish that mixes pear and chalky notes. Serve around 10 °C with sautéed green vegetables with ginger and garlic. 

SAQ code: 13903639&nbsp ;

Heimann, Szekszárd 2021, Kadarka

★★★1⁄2 | $$ | $23.25 | Hungary 12%

For more than 20 years, Zoltán Heimann carried out an important research program (in collaboration with the University of Pécs) on the genetic diversity of kadarka, a vine native to the Balkans, once very widely cultivated in Hungary, but abandoned under the communist era. The kadarka that makes up this cuvée comes from loess and red clay soils; Zolly Heimann vinifies it with whole bunches, then matures it in large Hungarian oak tuns. The 2021 gives off the flavors of morello cherries and small red fruits, on an aniseed background, just as drinkable and vibrant with freshness. Lovers of gamay and thirst-quenching reds, stock up! 

SAQ code: 14057219

< strong>Correct ★

Good ★★

Very good ★★★

Excellent ★★★★

Exceptional ★★★★★

More stars than dollars : well worth its price

As many stars as dollars: worth its price

Fewer stars than dollars: wine is expensive