Last week I threw down a challenge: taste an old-world wine next to its new-world counterpart and judge for yourself whether old world wines truly deserve their reputation as best in class. Even though I screwed up and included tasting notes from a Rhône wine instead of the Burgundy I was trying to give props to, I stand by my assertion that our hearts (and palates) belong to old-world wines.
But just to be sure, we decided to taste a few more old-world varietals - focusing this time on some not-so-well known grapes. Why journey down the road less traveled? Because some of the biggest taste surprises in the old world's bag of tricks are the ones you probably haven't even sampled. Each of these three wines represents its respective 'hood and will show you just how well the old world delivers the goods.
Perraud Muscadet Sevre et Main 2009 ($15): First, let's clear up some common muscadet misnomers: It's not muscat, and it's not muscadelle. It is a wine made from a grape called melon de bourgogne, which might make you think its provenance is Burgundian -- but it's not. Melon de bourgogne actually grows in the Loire Valley, where so many ridiculously delicious wines come from you hardly need bother drinking wines from anywhere else. As to the particulars of this bottle? Think of a glass of fresh, juicy lemonade -- albeit one with a backbite of stony minerality and of course, alcohol. Muscadets are famous for being the perfect complement to a plate of oysters, but try sipping a glass with ceviche for a modern twist on the classic pairing.
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Beaujolais Hills 'La Reserva' Privee 2009 ($11): Even if it's a Friday, sometimes you just need a Tuesday night wine. Not a fancy, expensive, blow-out wine; just a little something to take the edge off after a long week. This is that wine. You'll recall that Beaujolais is not a grape -- it's a region. The grape used to make this wine is gamay, which happens to make a spectacularly juicy, food-friendly wine. Speaking of food pairing, after the first sip, all we could think of was bacon: bacon-wrapped shrimp; bacon-wrapped asparagus; bacon-wrapped, goat-cheese stuffed dates...you get the picture. So the next time you're jonesing for a pinot, might we suggest you reach for a Beaujolais instead?
Pierre Soudais 'La Rosiers' Chinon ($18): Like every other wine this week, we're worried that you're probably not a fan of Chinon for no other reason besides you're not sure exactly what the hell it is. Well, let us clear up this little mystery for you: It's a red wine from Chinon, then it's pretty much gonna be cabernet franc. And if you love cabernet sauvignon, then you owe it to yourself to check out cab sauv's rougher, tougher cousin. Here are three words to sum up this crazy-good wine: ripe, spicy and sexy. But don't wait for a special occasion to savor this unique charmer -- pour it with everything from burgers to Bolognese.