The unloved wines that I would like us to drink more often | Wine

OWhat makes some wines popular and others tasteless? For example, in the 2010s, picpoul de pinet blanc dry from the south of France became a staple in every supermarket and wine bar. It was often sold as the Languedoc’s answer to Muscadet. And yet, while picpoul can be perfectly enjoyable in a clean place, not touching the sides, refreshing with seafood, and reasonably priced, it’s never really exciting.

Muscadet itself, meanwhile, can be awful: painfully acidic, sour and nasty, a fact that may explain its loss of popularity since it was a staple on wine lists in the 1970s and 80s. bottles are so much more exciting than rows of any good picpoul; at their salty, yeasty and lemony best (Jean-François Baron Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2020; £11.25, yapp.co.uk), they are a budget alternative to Chablis. They would be at the top of any list I could make of “overlooked wines that I wish people would drink more of”.

The rest of the list is dominated by fallen European giants: once-popular styles that have been outmoded by the New World wine boom, or that remain tainted by memories of bad wines from the past. You could put German Riesling in the latter category. Today’s often pulsating dry and semi-dry wines, with their burst of silvery acidity, are nothing like the sweet, sugary liebfraumilchs of yesteryear.

Next is Beaujolais: the region’s finest complex and gurgling – including the new generation of Beaujolais Nouveau – is in a different league from the chewing-gum, banana-scented stuff remembered from boozy cross-Channel cruises. While these wines may have lost their place in the mainstream, they have a small but growing cult following among wine geeks. The same goes for another once-conquering bestseller, sherry, which has been unpopular enough over the past 40 years to be ridiculously cheap and for which I am a loud and almost tedious evangelist, much like all other wine professionals. I say.

Other styles that deserve a wider audience come from areas that have never really been popular with anyone outside of locals. There’s so much to enjoy in the native strains and distinctive flavors emerging from modern scenes in Portugal, Greece, Slovenia and Croatia.

But if I had to pick the one currently overlooked wine that I think would add the most pleasure to people’s lives if they tried it, it wouldn’t be a specific region or grape variety: it’s a whole genre. , encompassing shimmering golden gems like Sauternes, Barsac, Tokaji, Monbazillac, Coteaux du Layon, Icewine or Eiswein and the German and Austrian Rieslings known as Trockenbeerenauslese. I wish more people would give themselves the chance to experience the heady, luxurious delights of the world’s great dessert wines.

Six wines that need to make a comeback

Williams & Humbert Alegria Manzanilla Spain NV (£5.49, 37.5cl, Waitrose)

Perpetually on the verge of a comeback, but never approaching its peak of 20th-century sales, sherry is absurdly good value. This is an example of the lightest and most racy style of the Sanlúcar estuary, a crunchy, fresh, nutty, yeasty and salty pairing for seafood.

M&S Classics Mineralstein Riesling Palatinate, Germany 2020 (£9.50, Marks & Spencer)

Riesling is a flexible varietal, capable of anything from austere dry to jam-packed sweet, but the best examples always have a backbone of invigorating steely acidity, plus, as is the case here, sweetness. tantalizing acidity of lime peel and tropical fruits. fleshy.

Domaines des Forges Coteaux du Layon Chaume Loire, France 2018 (£10.78, 37.5cl, justerinis.com; laywheeler.com)

An example of two things the world needs more of: great white chenin blanc grapes and golden dessert wines that are luscious yet balanced with sparkling acidity, it’s a simply magnificent partner for strong or blue cheeses.

Terra d’Alter ALF Alfrocheiro Alentejo, Portugal 2020 (from £10.95, leaandsandeman.co.uk; butlers-winecellar.co.uk; flagshipwines.co.uk)

Portugal is arguably still best known in the UK for its incomparable fortified wines: Port and Madeira. The 21st century has seen a renaissance in the country’s table wines, with this juicy, fruity and supple southern red from the native Alfrocheiro variety just a brilliant value.

Oenops Vins Apla Blanc Drama, Greece 2020 (£12.88, laywheeler.com)

Greece is an absolute treasure trove of distinctive wines that never quite managed to gain mainstream acceptance in the UK. This typically lemony, floral and energetic white blend of Malagouzia, Assyrtiko, Roditis and Muscat is the perfect introduction.

Francesco Rinaldi Dolcetto by Alba Roussot Piedmont, Italy 2020 (from £15.95, thewhiskyexchange.com; handford.net; noblegreenwines.co.uk)

Italy’s answer to Beaujolais is Piedmontese red wine made with dolcetto. Like its French counterpart, it was much more popular in the UK and the examples of the best modern producers such as Rinaldi are a big improvement on the past: all the bright dark cherries, herbs and freshness.

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