New Wines to Know Now

If you collect wine as a business proposition, then playing it safe with Barolo and Burgundy makes sense. If, however, you’re into wine for the simple enjoyment of drinking delicious things that connect you to time, place, and culture, then it’s worth looking beyond the usual, toward up-and-coming regions and undersung grapes.

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If you collect wine as a business proposition, then playing it safe with Barolo and Burgundy makes sense. If, however, you’re into wine for the simple enjoyment of drinking delicious things that connect you to time, place, and culture, then it’s worth looking beyond the usual, toward up-and-coming regions and undersung grapes.

Here are 10 you should know (plus a notable example of each), with the added advantage that if you get in early, you can watch—and taste—history in the making. And at least for now, lesser-known means lesser priced, so you can afford to live a little on the edge.


Even France’s top Champagne houses such as Taittinger have set up shop on the English Downs, attracted by cool temps and chalk soils similar to those in Champagne itself. Mike Roberts at Ridgeview was one of the pioneers of English sparklers when he planted his first vineyards in East Sussex in 1995; today, the country boasts some 7,200 acres of grape vines, much of it chardonnay—the same variety that dominates Champagne. Now that those vines are getting older and the vintners have gotten more practice at turning out fine sparklers, English bubbly is too good to ignore. Get in now, before the market gets too hot.

Ridgeview 2013 Blanc de Noirs—$65


While Champagne vintners have been looking to England for cooler climes, at home they’ve found a silver lining to the climate trend: Warmer vintages make for riper grapes, which make for tastier non-sparkling wines. Historically, many Champagne makers have bottled a little still pinot noir for family and friends; today, many are making enough to export some. The wines have developed a bit of a cult following among big-city sommeliers, who appreciate the spicy, savory red-fruit flavors and fine, transparent textures, not to mention their prices.

Jean Vesselle 2008 Coteaux Champenois Bouzy Rouge Pinot Noir—$60


Burgundy is to France as Piedmont is to Italy: the source of the country’s most esteemed wines. But while Burgundy boasts both red and white wines, Piedmont’s fame rests solely on nebbiolo, a red-wine grape. This may change. In the Colli Tortonesi, an area about 60 miles east of Barolo, a gaggle of winemakers is turning out a host of rich, cellar-worthy whites from the local timorasso grape. Walter Massa, the head of the movement, is so bullish on the potential that he’s even proposed it be the base of a new appellation: Derthona, the region’s ancient Roman name. The Italian government has yet to make it official, but several producers have already adopted the name for their head-turning whites.

Vignetti Massa 2017 Vino da Tavola Derthona—$35


In the last 20 years, Santorini has put Greece on the world wine map with its firm, mineral whites, made from assyrtiko grapes rooted in the island’s dry volcanic soil. They age beautifully, taking on the proportions of grand-cru Burgundy, with mineral-driven flavors that recall great German riesling. But there’s a problem: Every Greek winemaker wants a piece of the action, and there’s only so much arable land on this crescent-shaped remnant of a volcano poking up through the deep blue Mediterranean. A series of vintages plagued by drought, hail, and vine-destroying winds has left the island with far less wine than there is demand, sending grape prices skyward. The industry is at a tipping point now; jump on the wines before prices skyrocket.

Domaine Sigalas 2017 Santorini 7 Villages Vourvoulo—$85


Want to follow a region as is makes wine history? Check out Armenia. Few people gave the country much thought until 2007, when archeologists working at Areni-1, a site southeast of Yerevan, discovered the world’s oldest known winery, and, in the process, discovered that the local areni is the world’s oldest known grape variety. The findings might have remained a mere historical footnote were it not for the country’s new wave of vintners, notably Zorik Gharibian, who’d planned to open a winery in Tuscany until he discovered a cache of old vineyards in Armenia’s highlands. Working with two superstar Italian consultants, he’s turning out fine-boned, detailed, and spicy reds that suggest there’s every reason to pay close attention to this ancient, overlooked grape.

Zorah 2016 Rind Karasi—$36


Petit sirah is one of the few grapes that can claim its own fan club: PS I Love You has been around since 2002, when this grape started to gain attention. Neither syrah nor petite, the variety typically disappeared into blends until early this century, when winemakers increasingly began bottling it on its own. Since then, the amount of petite sirah acreage in California has more than doubled because the wines it makes can be so darn delicious. Think blackberry jam, spice cake, and rich, wide-wale tannins that keep the wines going strong for years.

Stags’ Leap Winery 2015 Stags Leap District Ne Cede Malis Petite Sirah—$125


While South Africa used to be synonymous with pinotage, a grape that makes sturdy but rarely sexy reds, syrah turns out to be where it’s at. The grape has been growing in the Cape winelands for more than a century, but it wasn’t until the 2000s that a new crew of vintners began making wines that showed its graceful side. Cool and peppery, with firm tannins, the best examples can compete with top wines from France’s Rhône, syrah’s homeland.

Mullineux 2016 Swartland Schist Syrah—$126


Say “Austria” to a wine lover and the first thing. they’ll likely think is “grüner veltliner,” a white-wine grape grown all along the Danube. But head south of Vienna to Burgenland and red wines take precedence, with the best made of blaufränkisch, a variety that rose and fell along with the Hapsburg monarchy. Now it’s enjoying a second golden age as a host of vintners pay it serious attention. By going to higher altitudes, where cool temperatures keep the grapes from getting too ripe, they’ve found that the variety can produce wines as detailed as they are dark and brooding, with fir-tree scents, brisk acidity, and tannins that preserve the wines for years.

Moric 2016 Burgenland Blaufränkisch—$33


It was called the “Wine of Kings, King of Wines” for centuries before Communism; today, Tokaj, a volcanic region in the eastern reaches of Hungary, is back on track. The thing is, it’s hard to grow grapes in this cool, damp climate, and a great vintage comes along only two or three times a decade. And even then, the wines need to age for years before they are ready to release to the market. Lucky for us, 2013 was one of those great vintages, and the wines are on the market now. Sweet as honey and intensely flavored, with tastes of dried apricot and baked apple made complex with spice and earth, these concentrated wines are among the world’s most long-lived, with century-old examples to prove it.

Royal Tokaji 2013 Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos First Growth Betsek—$135/500ML


Once common throughout the Pyrenees, Rancio Sec had nearly died out when it was declared an endangered viticultural tradition. The locals rallied to save it, and now there are dozens of makers, though few bottles make it to the U.S. It’s a curious wine, made from very ripe grapes (mostly grenache) fermented until dry; the wines are then left in barrels or glass bonbons for years, where age and oxygen turns them nutty, earthy, savory, and complex. The aging process, combined with robust levels of alcohol (about 15–16 percent), makes these wines incredibly stable; they can easily last for decades. They will even last for weeks after opening if you keep them well sealed and refrigerated. A favorite with cured anchovies, it’s just as good with pâté or salted nuts, or even a roast turkey.

Vial Magneres Tresmontaine Puits aux Souhaits Rancio Sec—$27/500ML