Everybody has a favourite wine. It may be a chewy Cabernet Sauvignon. Perhaps it’s a crisp Chardonnay. Or even something a little rarer, like a delicate Nebbiolo or a Chilean Carménère. Whatever it is, you’ve almost certainly got one; a faithful, fail-safe favourite you find yourself buying over and over and over again.
And that’s both good and bad. Because, while you’ll never be disappointed when you decant your favourite wine, you probably also don’t have the bottle to try something new. And there are some excellent lesser-known wines out there. Below, we’ve rounded up five of the finest worth trying; from a punchy, potent Zinfandel to a tropically-tinged new-world Chardonnay…
For earthy flavours, Corbières Campagnès Maxime Magnon 2018
On the nose: A forest of woody notes. Drenched in the dryness of tannins, this 2018 vintage gives off earthy aromas when decanted; like the countryside after a heavy rain. Also touches of ripe black fruits.
On the palate: Super-sippable. Slightly violet in colour, you can taste the blueberries and blackcurrants coming through. There’s a crescendo of soft raspberry, before an unexpected combination of spices and herbs — from black pepper to mint.
On the finish: The spices begin to subside into something a little more savoury. The oak on the nose returns, as do those earthy notes. But the big player in the final few moments is leather; offering a strong, layered finish.
Corbières Campagnès Maxime Magnon 2018
For summer florals, Domaine de la Renardiere Chardonnay Jurassique 2016
On the nose: Natural, fresh and with a fragile acidity running through it, the Jurassique 2016 blossoms with blooming, floral aromas. Go in for a second sniff and you’ll appreciate subtler petal fragrances.
On the palate: Strangely, it tastes almost exactly how it smells. There’s the welcome addition of elderflower notes, and perhaps slightly fewer petals than there were on the nose. Soft, rich and apple-y.
On the finish: Unobtrusive. It’s an unctuously soft end, melting away in your mouth. Once more, it brings to mind apples or pears — with that candied sweetness we smelt earlier making a return.
Domaine de la Renardiere Chardonnay Jurassique
For a ‘big’ red, Turley Zinfandel Juvenile 2018
On the nose: Forget ‘Juvenile’. This smells ripe. The glass hums with the meaty aromas of big, dark berries and winter spices, like cinnamon. In fact, it’s so juicy on the nose that you’ll think you’ve taken a swig, not a sniff.
On the palate: Blueberry is definitely in the mix, as is mellow raspberry and perhaps a hint of redcurrant? The sweeter spices also get you in the gums, with nutmeg and vanilla soaking up some of that juicy fruit flavour.
On the finish: None of that normal claggy Zinfandel nonsense. There’s a brief after-dinner dash of strong coffee and crusted port — but then a swift, refreshing release. Some floral notes also linger on the tongue.
Turley Zinfandel Juvenile 2018
For a complex white, Santa Cruz Mountains Trout Gulch Chardonnay Kutch 2017
On the nose: Everything you want from a new-world Chardonnay. There’s the requisite yellow apple sweetness, with depth of stone fruit swirling around in there. Also a tropical twist, with hints of pineapple.
On the palate: More of the same. Light, bright and bone dry, it’s got a slightly more saline, savoury flavour than the nose suggests. Think herbal florals over outward sweetness — with spicy pear and even echoes of ginger.
On the finish: Brimming with minerality, the finish sees the citrus flavours fall away in favour of rich, creamy textures. There’s just the right amount of oak, more green herbs and the faintest splash of golden honey.
Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay Kutch
For an intense option, Etna Rosso Emanuele Scammacca del Murgo 2018
On the nose: A little bit of everything. To sniff this 2018, you’d think there was too much going on; with aromas of wild strawberry, blood orange, rose petals, leather and smoke all pouring out of the glass.
On the palate: You’d be mistaken, however. Medium-bodied and perfectly balanced, the wine may oscillate between lush and and tangy, but it walks the line well. It brings cloves, black pepper and red fruits together in harmony.
On the finish: Intense. Doubling down on these rich red fruits and spices, there’s a rounded, savoury feel to the finish. Its flavours — elegant and vigorous — are as deeply tempting as its glossy, dark garnet colour.
Etna Rosso Emanuele Scammacca del Murgo
Fancy some food with that wine? Here are the sustainable wines you should be drinking — and the dishes to pair them with…
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