Every big star has the hungry scion snapping at their heels, and well known grapes with box-office clout can become over-exposed and lose their allure. So here’s my run-down of wines to look for when the time comes to seek out the understudy…
For Sauvignon Blanc junkies like me, that herbal, aromatic mouth-water factor is easy to find, especially if you get your hands on a Tuscan beauty called Vernaccia. This was famously described by Michaelangelo as a wine that ‘kisses, licks, bites, heats and stings’, which he meant in a good way.
If you’re a die-hard fan of the Loire style of Savvy Blanc, it’ll pay to familiarise yourself with a lesser known area called Menetou-Salon. A 30-minute drive west of Sancerre, many believe that its wines will soon come to rival those of its notable neighbour.
If it’s a silky German Riesling that lights your fi re, look no further than Kerner; an underdog grape from the same country, possibly even descended from the great grape itself. With an aromatic style similar to Riesling but with less acidity, this one can’t age for as long and was invented for immediate guzzling.
Fans of fulsome Burgundian Chardonnays might want to give Aligoté a try. Something of a Cinderella grape, it is usually offered in less coveted soils than Chardonnay and won’t be found at the ball with its more glamorous sister. Lighter in style than Chardonnay, this is one to drink in its youth, when it has bags of vibrant notes of apple and lemon and a mouth-tingling acidity.
Red drinkers who can’t get enough of the enchanting Pinot Noir grape should be open to giving Pinot Meunier a go. Best known for its role as the third Musketeer in the Champagne blend, along with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this lean and spicy fella is being given a revival by some forward-thinking New World producers.
For many of us, our fail-safe red is a Cotes du Rhône, which we love for its spicy Syrah flavours. Its Italian equivalent is Nero D’Avola, which sounds like a minor character from The Godfather, but is fittingly a native grape of Sicily. It produces a wine with all the spice of its Southern French counterpart, but also brings brooding black cherries to the table.
For my final must-drink item, here’s an alternative to the world’s best-loved grape, Cabernet Sauvignon. The most planted variety in the world, Cabernet produces everything from our daily drinking wines, all the way through to first growth Bordeaux. Aglianico is Italy’s Cabernet, and every bit as complex. With modern wine-making techniques, this rouge can be enjoyed as a plucky youngster or as a more sophisticated proposition with some oak ageing. A serious contender for ‘Fine Wine of the Future’ status.
Presenter and author Rob Buckhaven is passionate about food and drink, and appears regularly as a wine expert on TV, and as a newspaper and magazine columnist. He can also be found hosting shows across the country, including the BBC Good Food Show, Taste and Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival. Follow him on Twitter at @robbuckhaven
Featured image: Shutterstock