For years, these wines were the world’s best-kept secrets. That’s because Spaniards would drink a large share of the annual output, leaving little incentive to export in a major fashion. But a lot has changed with globalization. It’s much easier to make connections with worldwide distributors, and Spanish producers are seizing the opportunity to spread out and win new followers.
Spanish wines have always been very good, and consumers are confirming that assessment with their purchasing power. One of this year’s gems is Vallegarcia’s Hipperia 2013, a Bordeaux-style blend that is as elegant and cost-effective as you’ll find on France’s Left and Right Banks. Believe me, at $14.99 a bottle, Hipperia has all the power and grace of a cru wine.
Sam Messina, co-owner of Wine ConneXtion in North Andover, was a bit reluctant to share this latest discovery with me. Big chain outlets are trying to force out family-run operations like Sam’s, gobbling up huge chunks of production lots, so Messina didn’t want to alert them to Hipperia. But I tasted it, persisted, and Sam relented.
“We’re changing our business model to bring in high-quality, boutique wines from smaller producers,” said Messina. “Our customers respond to these top wines that have gone overlooked because of the big brand names crowding them out.
“We’re focusing on discovering the best of the best, at price points that are attractive to our customers. That’s where we are headed,” he added.
Hipperia is a fabulous find. It’s a harmonious blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot that yields intense red-fruit flavors, silky-smooth texture, and a long, complex finish. My friend Mike Pigeon, the Wine Butler, said it best: “Plush and lush from the first sip to the last.”
I don’t like watery Pinot Grigio, and for a long time I’d refuse to drink it because I considered it inferior. A year ago, however, I began to detect a slight change. Pinot Grigio was getting more expressive. Hey, I wasn’t wrong. Innovative winemakers are always trying to improve their products, and Pinot Grigio is benefiting from the “white revolution” In Italy’s Veneto and Friuli-Giulia-Venezia regions. By using red-wine techniques to make white wines, winemakers are enhancing color, aromatics and flavors while retaining freshness and acidity. Specifically, Pinot Grigio is getting a slightly longer maceration period in which the juice sits on the grape skins, picking up these richer notes.
One of the best examples of this full-bodied style is Colle Corviano Pinot Grigio delle Venezia 2016. The framework is crisp minerality but the lip-smacking appeal comes from its greater citrus fruit core of mango and lemon. It’s selling for $12.99 at the Wine ConneXtion.