If there’s a trick to knowing what wines you’ll like, it all comes down to personality. What’s yours?
As a passion point, wine can be all encompassing and infinitely rewarding. But delve below the surface of most wine lovers and myriad other interests emerge, like the Bordeaux fanatic with a penchant for Baroque art and vintage sports cars, or the Oregon Pinotphile who spends weekends camping or collecting antique corkscrews.
Discerning and adventurous tastes cross all aspects of life, and a wine lover’s world is wide and rich, encompassing art, travel, music, food and more.
How easily can a wine experience and a personality type be linked? Individuality aside, we profile five enthusiasts and pair them with a region and a wine that we think will suit their tastes and interests.
The Outdoor Adventurer
Rock climbing, hiking, sky diving—the wilder, the better for this envelope-pusher.
Known for its windy, often desolate beauty encompassing everything from jutting Andean peaks to barren ice fields and the rugged Atlantic coast, Patagonia, Argentina, is a veritable playground for adrenaline-driven sports.
Its emerging northern wine regions of Río Negro and Neuquén produce fresh Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer and Riesling, as well as Pinot Noir, Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Think edgy and assertive when it comes to wine, like the Bodega NQN 2007 Malma Universo. A red blend made from Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s distinctive, spicy and marches to the beat of its own drum.
90 Bodega NQN 2007 Malma Universo (Patagonia). This Malbec-Cabernet blend hits the spot aromatically, delivering rock-solid black fruit and toasty oak scents. It feels rich, with chewy tannins and rooty-tasting berry and chocolate flavors. Smooth and easygoing, perhaps a touch soft on the finish. Drink now–2014. Vias Imports. —M.S.
abv: 14.5% Price: $22
Either on the hunt for perfect kale at the local farmer’s market or obsessing over a new, singleorigin chocolate from Guatemala, this food fanatic is all about locally sourced, premium and artisanal edibles.
And for those devotees, an orgy of phenomenal foods and wines await in Tuscany, Italy. Whether in Florence, with its colorful cases of fennel-seed prosciutto and pecorino cheese; Lucca, famous for its thick farro soups; or Greve, with its markets offering delicious, salty pork rolls, there are indulgences for every taste.
Equal diversity in wine is a Tuscan trait. Home to the super Tuscans, the region produces world-class Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah, as well as Vermentino, Trebbiano and the food-friendly Vernaccia.
Let the cuisine take center stage, but choose a wine that will complement many foods, like Rocca delle Macìe’s Ser Gioveto.
92 Rocca delle Macìe 2009 Ser Gioveto (Toscana). A cheerful super Tuscan blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, this shows an elegant and sophisticated side. It’s modern, plump and extracted, but also delivers fine aromas of cherry, vanilla, spice and pipe tobacco. Palm Bay International. —M.L.
abv: 14% Price: $50
The Beach Bum
Everything about this proponent of surf and sand is laid back and casual, from the sun-bleached hair to the weathered flip-flops.
A stone’s throw from some of the best big-wave surfing and white-sand beaches in the world, Margaret River, Australia, pairs a serious winemaking culture with a relaxed, but dedicated culinary scene.
The region produces varied red wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz, but a chilled glass of white wine best fits the sunny outdoors. Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chenin Blanc and Verdelho are all possibilities, but Margaret River’s calling card white is Chardonnay.
Opulent, fleshy and tropical, the Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay is just as good on the beach with a grilled shrimp skewer in hand as in front of a Bruce Brown surf flick at home.
93 Leeuwin Estate 2008 Art Series Chardonnay (Margaret River). A perennial favorite, Leeuwin’s 2008 is another success, marrying ample weight and texture with easy elegance. Notes of toasted hazelnuts and grilled tropical fruit mingle into an opulent parfait of flavor that’s held together by bright acidity, while a lingering veil of smoke hangs on the finish. Old Bridge Cellars. —J.C.
abv: 13.5% Price: $89
The Architecture Buff
This sophisticated urbanite’s bathroom book is From Bauhaus to Our House, thinks clutter should be a crime, and is so over neoclassical.
Wondrous architecture awaits the traveler with an eye for detail in Barcelona, Spain. Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi is famous for the fantastical concepts and undulating shapes of his buildings, representing symmetry of balance and imagination. Seven bold structures in or near Barcelona lure design fans to the region.
The structured red wines of nearby Priorat are equally distinctive. Produced from steep, terraced vineyards whose shapes and beauty echo Gaudi’s own work, these rich reds are most often made from Garnacha and Cariñena, sometimes blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah.
The Clos Gebrat delivers the refined balance and structure that will impress any design maven.
92 Clos Gebrat 2010 Priorat. Fresh, floral and not overbearing on the nose, this has red berry and cassis aromas, with no interference from oak or too much extraction. It feels pure and elegant, with wild berry and cherry flavors that end on a ripe, slightly sweet-tasting finish. Good for near-term drinking. The Artisan Collection. Editors’ Choice. —M.S.
abv: 14% Price: $24
This in-the-know character craves discoveries that smack of authenticity. Intellectual and offbeat, they flock to creative foods, wines and experiences that are more eccentric than expensive.
Think Paso Robles, California, where a small-production garagiste wine movement is emerging and off-the-beaten-path travel reigns.
Art-fueled cafes, locavore eateries and a touch of old-school cowboy culture attract eclectic travelers. Experimental winemakers and an unabashed geek-level attention to progressive culinary approaches add to the appeal.
Rhône varieties like Syrah, Roussanne and Viognier thrive here, as do Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, all possessing plush, sexy characters.
For the wine, choose an original like Ancient Peaks’s Renegade, a nontraditional blend of Syrah, Malbec and Petite Sirah.
91 Ancient Peaks 2010 Renegade Margarita Vineyard (Paso Robles). This is one of those wines that could be a little soft and heavy on its own, but when paired with the right food, it will explode. Made from Syrah, Malbec and Petite Sirah, it’s bone dry, with blackberry, red currant, bacon and white pepper flavors that are wrapped into firm tannins and finished with a touch of smoky oak. Editors’ Choice. —S.H.
abv: 14.1% Price: $23
The History Buff
Greece represents a window into the ancient world that’s unparalleled. The island of Crete is rife with vestiges of its millennia past, including outstanding Minoan ruins and existing structures of the ancient Greek and Roman eras. There’s history in Crete’s winemaking culture too: viticulture on the island dates back 4,000 years and the oldest wine press in the world was discovered here. 20% of Greece’s wine production is Cretan, with vines planted to native grapes like Vilana, Kotsifali, Mandelaria and Liatico as well as Chardonnay and Syrah. History lovers should pick up a bottle of Symbolo, which includes Kotsifali, an ancient variety.
89 Lyrarakis 2008 Symbolo Grand Cuvée (Crete). Plum and red berry aromas start this integrated red blend, released only in the best years. On the palate, plum, warming spice and spicy oak create a rich but clean character. The wine is structured with room for aging. A sophisticated showcase bottling. —S.K.
abv: 13% Price: $50