Stretch your wine horizons in 2017!

Even the most passionate wine lovers tend to get into a bit of a rut.  They develop favourites that they have a tough time letting go.

The world of wine is vast and varied and continually evolving.  New regions in ‘New World’ countries – the Americas, South Africa or Australia – quietly improve or specialize in long forgotten wine grapes.

Obscure ‘Old World’ regions in Europe – Moldova, Romania or Georgia – suddenly penetrate the global market with wildly unique indigenous varieties.  Some of the wines they have been making for local consumption are discovered and reviewed and start showing up on shelves everywhere.

Blessed with the prefect climate for growing wine grapes – much like California – there are no wine that don’t thrive somewhere in South Africa. Liberated by the advent of democracy, the wine industry has gone from strength to strength, with exports having more than doubled between 2005 and 2015.

An exceptionally affordable, everyday white wine, Prime Cuts White Blend (580662) $8.99 is a blend built of Chenin Blanc. Aromas of lemon blossoms slide into lemon, lime and grapefruit. Flavours of green apple, honeydew melon and kiwi fruit make a mouth watering medley as it slips over the tongue.

A local cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut (aka: Hermitage) created by Professor Abraham Perold in 1925. Equally affordable Prime Cuts Red Blend (783027) $8.99 shows its Pinotage roots with Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet all adding their own notes. Earthy undertones mingle with flavours of blackcurrants and raspberries with a twist of mocha cappuccino in the finish.

The Republic of Moldova is tucked in between Romania and the Ukraine. Wonderful and often unique wines have been made in Moldova for centuries.  Some of it is starting to make it to North America!

Crisecco Brut is the first and only sparkling wine produced in Charmat method from Feteasca Alba – one of Moldova’s indigenous grapes – with the addition of 10 per cent Muscat.  Cricova Crisecco (766816) $14.10 offers up a complex floral bouquet, with notes of peach, apple and pear and crisp undercurrents of lemon, lime and grapefruit.

Slightly effervescent, Vinho Verde – ‘green’ wine –  is a Portuguese wine that originated in the historic Minho province in the far north of the country. Ideal with white fish and perfect with oysters, this is always a sassy white wine.

Calcada Vinho Verde (275719) $16.99 is produced from the regional blend of traditional Portugese grapes Loureiro, Arinto, Azal and Trajadura Expresses the character of the region, with intense fruity aroma and light floral notes with a lively acidity. orange blossom, peach and citrus notes, enriched with aromas of white fruits like plum, pear and apple and tropical fruits – pineapple and passion fruit – with chalky mineral notes in the finish.

The Muscat grape is the world’s oldest known grape variety. It likely originated in Greece but perhaps the independent sultanate of Muscat in the south-east of the Arabian Peninsula had something to do with it. These days, the most common Muscat (…or Moscato) wines are made in an off dry style, sometimes even sweet.

From Bordertown Vineyards in Osoyoos in the south Okanagan Valley Bordertown Muscat (991547) $20.95 Muscat comes from limited plantings on their family estate. The aroma is typically ‘grapey’, with fabulously fruity flavours of pineapple, peach and even hints of mandarin orange. Addictive stuff!

In celebration of Canada’s 150th Birthday, the 2017 Vancouver International Wine Festival – February 11 to 19, 2017 – features Canada as the theme country with 76 wineries from British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia, nearly one third of which are participating for the first time.

Sure to be a hit at the festival, Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 (863902) $25.30 is made from 100% Nova Scotia grown grapes, highlighting select Muscat grape varieties. Pale pink in colour with a coral hue, there are fantastic flavours of ruby red grapefruit, blood orange and star fruit filling the palate.

Greece is a hotbed of unusual varieties of wine grapes.  From Amyndeon in north west Greece  Alpha Estate ‘Hedgehog Vineyard’ Xinomavro (231290) $27.99 has a complex bouquet of small berries red fruits, leather and spices (vanilla, pepper, clove), with earthy forest floor notes of ripe blueberries and blackberries.

Expand your wine horizons in 2017!  Try something you’ve never tried before!

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