Upend Your Expectations with Three Untraditional Wines

wine bottles
Photo by Tom Arena

Just as a dynamic actor can be pigeonholed as a particular character, plenty of captivating grapes are vinified in one style for so long, we never expect to see much else from them. But not all producers are keen to typecast. Around the world, winemakers craft terroir-driven bottlings that demonstrate the full spectrum of their fruit. Ahead, discover three script-flipping selections that reflect varieties in a different way than you may be accustomed to.

Martha Stoumen Wines 2018 Honeymoon

Mendocino County

Historically used for blends and distillates like Cognac, some assume Colombard is neutral or lacks personality. Even vinified solo, it’s noted for basic, albeit crisp, white wines. This blend of 85% Colombard and 15% Chardonnay proves otherwise.

Founder/winemaker Martha Stoumen selects dry-farmed Colombard grown on deep-rooted vines planted in 1948. She says they give “really amazing depth of flavors,” and likens them to a “ blank slate” to which she layers “colors” of character from prolonged hangtime on the vine and lees contact in the cellar. Some of 2018’s harvest was botrytized, which also layered complex honeyed umami flavor.

The Beautiful Bounty of Botrytized Wines

Rogue Vine 2018 Grand Itata Tinto

Itata Valley

Amicable and aromatic when partnered, red-fruited Cinsault is generally light-bodied and low in tannins. It’s usually associated with rosé blends from the South of France.

This varietal bottling from Chile’s Itata Valley offers a distinct contrast. Made with native yeasts and no filtration, it’s smoky, with minerality, striking red berry notes and fresh acidity.

“[In Itata,] the granite is the soul and energy of the Cinsault grape,” says Winemaker Leo Erazo, who believes the grape’s capabilities are best expressed with low-yielding old vines and a focus on soil.

Comando-G 2018 La Bruja de Rozas Sierra de Gredos

Vinos de Madrid

While Grenache is known for its versatility and red fruit, Spanish Garnacha is often considered a workhorse variety, with a reputation for burly wines anchored by notes of dark fruits.

Fernando Garcia and Dani Landi, founders of Comando-G, aim to pioneer a move in the other direction by leaning on the granite-laced, high-altitude terroir of Sierra de Gredos. Light, elegant, earthy and aromatic, with high acidity, they consider this their “village” Garnacha, more akin to Burgundian Pinot Noir.

Published on July 15, 2020
Topics: Wine and Ratings