Tour of Europe in economy class

New year, new resolutions.

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, isn't it?

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 2023 in exploratory mode.

Cheers, Happy New Year!

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

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 way more than the customer is asking for.

Code SAQ : 14189932 

★★★ | $1⁄2 | 15,90$ | 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 south-facing plots, 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.

Code SAQ : 12455088 

★★★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. Enjoy with braised meat.

Code SAQ : 14102403 

★★★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 restrained, but just as pleasant, the wine is lively, open and very well built on the palate, with a lovely finish that blends pear and chalky notes. Serve around 10°C with sautéed green vegetables with ginger and garlic.

Code SAQ : 13903639 

★★★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 grape variety originating from 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!

Code SAQ : 14057219

Correct ★

Good ★★

Very good ★★★

Excellent ★★★★

Exceptional ★★★★★

More stars than dollars: well worth the price

As many stars as dollars: worth its price

Fewer stars than dollars: wine is expensive

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