Expecting the unexpected: The best wines from the most unfamiliar of locations
PUBLISHED: 12:00 12 August 2016
Wines from Turkey, Portugal and Australia and New Zealand
Here we are in holiday time, and off on wine travels. The purpose of this column, though, is not to head to predictable destinations, but to seek out unexpected wines from locations that might or might not be familiar.
First stop is inland Turkey – a country certainly in need of a little happy publicity at the moment.
Kalecik kerasi does just that. It’s one of many indigenous Turkish grapes, black and pleasantly fruity.
The wine from it I’ve particularly enjoyed is not a big red but a very pale rosé with a fresh, savoury edge.
Maker Kayra Wines is modern and progressive, yet dedicated to preserving Anatolia’s native grapes, to particularly happy effect here. (For wine details, see below.)
Next stop requires a much longer journey to Hawke’s Bay on New Zealand’s North Island. Here, in the second-largest Kiwi wine region, plenty of red grapes are grown, but few are gamay – the variety doesn’t figure at all in the national statistics.
But it should: Te Mata’s effort shows there’s potential for much pleasure.
Across the Tasman Sea, Larry Cherubino is an innovative wine creator – and one of his latest whites mixes grapes rarely considered as Australian mainstream varieties.
The result is a tempting leap beyond the chard/cab/shiraz norm.
Back in Europe, the hot, arid climate of Portugal’s Douro Valley is red wine wonderland – port, of course, and increasingly respected non-fortified table wines.
But the whites can be remarkably fine and fresh for such a location, showcasing great grapes few wine-drinkers know.
In contrast, the Italians claim the Abruzzo mountains are the greenest region of Europe, and this wild land, inhabited as much by wolves and bears as man, is certainly not a conventional wine region.
There’s a plethora of national parks and nature reserves, and it’s only appropriate to find organic viticulture here – including a fascinating, off-piste deep pink wine.
Different and very appealing, too, is a white from Hungary, where the furmint grape is best known in rich, long-lived sweet tokaji wine.
This bottle, though, is not merely very dry, but also made in non-interventionist way, almost one of the newly fashionable “orange” wines.
Tasting tips for the adventurous pallette
Kayra Kalecik Kerasi rosé 2015 (£12.40, strictlywine.co.uk) has scents and flavours of pink grapefruit, but much more besides – you’ll spot celery, suggests maker Daniel O’Donnell.
Te Mata Gamay Noir 2015 (£17-£20, independents including Harvey Nicholls, thenewzealandcellar.co.uk, thedrinkshop.com) has plenty of characteristic floral character, but it’s far denser than much beaujolais – though like that, it’s lovely served cool.
Cherubino’s Apostrophe Stone’s Throw 2015 (£12, strictlywine.co.uk, nywines.co.uk) blends riesling with gewurtztraminer and a little chardonnay and sauvignon blanc to aromatic, fresh, fruity, classy, lingering, just off-dry effect – so summery.
Valle Reale Lupi Reali rosé (£10, strictlywine.co.uk) takes its name from those mountain wolves and has an intriguing wildness in its dry, savoury, cherry-edged fruit.
Altano Douro White 2015 (£8.50 - £10, thewinesociety.com, tanners-wines.co.uk) comes from big port house Symington – it’s the family’s only white. Initially it sings out elderflower, followed by juicy tropical aromatics.
Oxidation isn’t usually recommended in white wine, but in Majoros Birtok Tokaji Deak Furmint 2011 (£13.70, thewhiskyexchange.com) it contributes to an intriguing, complex mouthful.