We haven’t been on a plane recently, but our taste buds have been to California, Italy, South Africa, Argentina and Greece, if that counts for anything. There is something satisfying knowing that Myra and I can sip the same wine the locals are enjoying in Sicily, Santorini, or Cape Town.
When it comes to wine, exotic locations can mean both unique regional grapes—and unique takes on wine making using more familiar grapes. Compare a pinot noir from Burgundy, France, with one from California’s Russian River; taste a chardonnay from Argentina alongside one from Oregon—and notice the difference. I say, viva la difference.
Join our taste trip
2021 Gaia Thalassitis—the name is a bit of a mouthful, but then so is the wine. A Santorini white from old-vine Assyrtiko grapes, Thalassitis is concentrated and elegant (characteristic of wine from old-vine grapes) with crisp acidity and engaging minerality. It's a bargain trip to the Aegean Sea. $43
2022 Tribute Sauvignon Blanc—a single-vineyard bottling from Monterey County’s Santa Lucia Mountain Range where grapes benefit from extended hang-times thanks to cooling winds from Monterey Bay. Barrel-finishing mellows the tangy acidity of this tasty, affordable wine. $14
2022 Domaine Bousquet Sparkling Brut Charmat Rosé (NV)—organic, brut-style Argentine bubbly composed of pinot noir and chardonnay. Delightful raspberry/strawberry flavors/aromas linger through slightly fruity finish. It's a fun and affordable party wine. $13
2022 Art of Earth Chardonnay—organic grapes from Argentina’s pristine Mendoza wine region. Lush tropical fruit character balances against refreshing citrus flavors. Check out other Art of Earth labels for quality, affordable wines. $12
2022 Conundrum White Blend—long-time favorite of Myra’s, Conundrum white is a constantly changing blend of varietals. This vintage is a formulation of quality chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, semillon, and viognier. It's a fun, interesting, and a nice change of pace. $18
2022 Masciarelli Rosato Colline Teatine—produced from Montepulciano grapes in the Abruzzo region of Italy, Masciarelli is one of the most mouth-watering rosés we tasted this summer. Loaded with strawberry/raspberry, it's refreshingly tangy—and a steal. $14
2021 Masciarelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo—made with Montepulciano grapes from Abruzzo like the Masciarelli Rosé, but this one is full-throttle red and an interesting contrast to its lighter-style cousin. It has medium body, cherry/plum flavors, nicely balanced acidity/tannins. $14
2021 Sea Slopes Pinot Noir—fruit sourced from the cool Sonoma coast where grapes ripen slowly to full-flavor. The concentrated red fruit is nicely balanced with just enough oak. If whites are your thing, check out Sea Slopes Chardonnay. It's California sunshine in a bottle. $35
2020 Carpineto Dogajolo Toscano Red—smooth, full-bodied blend of Tuscany’s renowned sangiovese (key varietal in Chianti) and cabernet sauvignon. It's full of rich black cherry and plum character—Italian silk in a glass. $12
2019 Cataclysm Red Blend—a Bordeaux-style blend of malbec, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, petit Verdot, and syrah from Washington’s Columbia Valley, Cataclysm’s Red Blend reveals rich dark fruit, fig, and spice to the senses. $16
2020 Pasqua Romeo & Juliet Passimento Rosso—fall in love with this Italian blend of merlot and corvina/croatina grapes from Verona—home of Shakespeare’s star-crossed couple. It has complex flavors, velvety tannins and smooth finish. Bravo! $16
2019 Vecchio Florio Marsala Superiore—Marsala is a fortified wine (neutral spirits added) from Sicily. Americans tend to know it as a cooking wine, but the same nutty, raisin/fig/caramel flavors it brings to sauces makes it a delicious dessert wine. $17
Try these South African wines
If you haven’t tried South African (SA) wines its time to put on your safari hat and go wine hunting.
On the Western Cape you will find chenin blanc—SA’s most widely planted white and a delightfully quaffable drop. Ranging from dry to fruity depending on the wine maker, there is a chenin blanc for almost every taste.
Next, look for rosés—one of SA’s hidden gems (at a fraction the price of French rosé). Check the vintage; rosé are most always best drunk young.
Finally, track down a sparkling wine—lots of styles to choose from—including a sparkling sauvignon blanc. Many wineries use the traditional Champagne Method (without the fancy price).
2022 Kumusha Chenin Blanc—dry, medium body, pear/citrus. $17
2022 Boschendal the Rose Garden Rosé—crisp, dry, strawberry/raspberry. $12
Graham Beck Brut (NV) Sparkling Wine—classic toasty aroma/flavor. $20
Steve Prati, Franklin-based wine consultant, www.steveswinecellar.com
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Try these wines for a delightful exotic experience at home