I have been constantly seeking out wines from unexpected places, sometimes hoping I can be surprised, other times just to try something others will turn there noses up at. Possibly some of the most shocking places from which I have had wines, were from Lebanon and Turkey. I have also had a few different wines from Greece too. Some of my favorite wines have been from places in Spain other than their more highly known Rioja region.
These wines though, while they are occasionally very good, can often than not be insipid, horribly off balance. But mostly they fall somewhere in the middle. Spain has been notably exceptional in my mind. Greece I feel could easily improve, and while it is already producing some great wines, I feel it could easily produce many more of that quality.
Lebanon and Turkey were really shocking. Being as they come from predominantly Muslim countries in which they have a much different world view upon alcohol than Western Europe and the America’s. As such I never really expect to find alcohol sold by countries that view it so poorly, even though Turkey is Much more westernized than other parts of the near east, and I honestly am not informed enough on foreign politics to know Lebanon’s views of the western world. But both of these have produced some good wine, even though it was entirely unexpected.
This Spanish wine comes from the Campo de Borja region in Aragon. It was picked up at my local wine store, which seems to have an decent selection of Spanish Wines, that I have had a wonderful time exploring. Upon doing a little bit of digging on this wine, I found something that seems to hint that while the label says Garnacha it is in fact a blend of 80% Garnacha and 20% Tempranillio.
This wine actually lets a little bit of light through, but it is still a deep royal purple in color. The aroma is quite woodsy, with hints of cedar, and damp logs. Its also got a strong aroma of over ripe grapes, and hints of antiseptic. The taste is much more redeeming, with strong plum notes, with cinnamon and apples. The finish is wonderful, its a taste only a wine can have, plums and blackberries filling your entire mouth.
This wine despite its potentially off-putting aroma, the taste is quite nice, bold, and mildly complex. Its a quite stunning wine at a bargain of a price, I will definitely have to pick up a few more bottles at the price of $9 per bottle.
From Salta Argentina, and boldly stating on its bottle that it is barrel aged, I am a bit hopefully about this, mainly for the barrel aged statement. I have long been a fan of liquids stored in barrels. So I am wondering about its name, do they proclaim that wine causes us to rise to a higher state of consciousness?
Bright fruity flavors light hint of toasted oak on the nose. The most notable aroma is Chocolate strawberries, with hints of plum and dried cranberries. The flavor is a real punch in the mouth, full of tannic fruits, and actually a nice hint of raspberry pastry and a refreshing hint of lemon. This is a bit heavy on the tannins, and the finish is almost sour.
I have not had many Argentinian Wines, or Malbecs, so I do not know if these are par for the course, I hope not. If I were to give this points I would have a hard time giving it above mid 70’s if I even want to be that generous.
A California red wine blend, which has a bit more information posted here. Something about this wine had me put off trying it until I was gifted a bottle. In part because between the color choices and the label style it comes across as macabre, in the sense that the only color used not on the Grey scale was blood red.
The color is incredibly dark, possibly one of the darkest wines I have seen, even with a well lit window in the background this still only shows a faint hint of purple. The nose though is something special, so amazingly fresh and clean, almost like a batch of fresh picked berries brought in out of the rain, and a brisk day. Not just that though, there seems to be a bit of orange and clove in the midst of the aroma’s. The flavor is a bit interesting starts out feeling exceedingly clean with almost a bit of a sour taste, and as that clears away, on comes a striking waves of acidity, strikingly reminiscent of oranges and cranberries. Only in the aftermath does there seem to be a bit of tannins peaking out.
I didn’t know what I was expecting with this one, but for some reason the more I try it the more it tastes like a fruit punch, that has a little extra kick. It is by no means bad, in fact it would be amazingly refreshing on a slightly warmer day (its already decently hot). But I will say this is worlds better than the Rose I had at a Greek Festival at lunch. I thought the Rose would go well with the heat, but the Rose labeled as a Greek Rose table wine, tasted to me like heartburn in a glass.
Back to the Apothic, this is way too drinkable, not to intense. This seems like it would be great for party drinking where I am not looking for a drinkable work of art, but rather something which can be consumed in a variety of situations and have it likely taste great.
The very first winery I ever visited which really gave my love of wine an incredible shot in the arm, was the Mercouri Estate Winery, in Peloponnese Greece. What surprised me the most, is the wines that I tried had more character than I have ever really had from buying retail in the United States. The wines were certainly eye opening, and the estate pituresque.
The wine I liked the most from their winery was their Foloi Fume. Their Foloi wine, comes in two types, and is known for a distinctive charcoal sketch with a green background, although the picture on the label is interesting enough. The sketch is of Hercules fighting a Centar, and lets just say the unclothed Hercules is a bit excited by the battle. But as for the wine, it comes as Foloi, and Foloi Fume, in my understanding the basic mixture of grapes is rather similar between the two, the largest difference being that Fume spends some time in Oak Barrels to pick up a bit of extra character and giving it a slightly drier profile.
I am honestly surprised that Greek wines are not more widely available, considering many locations in Greece seem to have a thriving wine culture, the island of Santorini being one of them. Granted I do not think there are many very very large wineries in Greece, which might be the reason why most of their wines seem to be aimed at local consumption rather than world wide distribution.
Wine is surely a wonderful beverage, made by the hands of man, but perfected in the fields of nature. The final product is reliant on so many things, that it hardly seems fair to consider Wine a simple consumer product. Wine is much more akin to a drinkable, and enjoyable work of art. Its to be sipped, savored, and recorded in our memories.
So ho did I get interested in Wine? It all has to do with a trip to Southern Europe, in which I visited several wineries. That being done I have tried to visit a decent number of other wineries, the most fun in my opinion are visiting those wineries in places that are not known for wine. Perhaps its because their owners are sufficiently nuts to think they could make this work, or because they are onto something that the world doesn’t quite believe yet. Just think of all the more recently emerging Major Wine producing regions in the world, it is safe to say it is not just France anymore.