A few months ago we contemplated a world beyond Sauvignon Blanc. Now I’d like you to think of what the wine landscape might look like beyond the king of grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon. I’m highlighting three of literally thousands of varietals available worldwide.
Italy is the largest producer of wine by volume in the world. They produce wine from over 800 different kinds of grapes. Barbera is one of the signature wines of Piemonte, which is in the upper west side of the country near France. It is the third most planted wine grape in Italy, so you will find plenty of these on wine lists and in your favourite wine shops.
Barbera is known to be quite fruity and rich but with a lighter body. It’s often aged in oak barrels, which adds some nuances in flavour, like spice and vanilla. Try Barbera with fatty meat dishes, which are complemented by the acidity, or any kind of rich game or earthy dishes.
Carmenere is a French refugee that’s found a new lease on life in Chile, where they now proudly consider it their own. It is in fact one of the qualified grapes of Bordeaux, where it was once blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Carmenere was considered extinct with the last French plantings destroyed by the 19th-century Phyloxera epidemic. The grape was cultivated for over a century in Chile where they thought it was a type of Merlot.
Carmenere is deep red, fruity and spicy and pairs easily with food. It is light enough with a nice pork dish, but can also handle heartier fare like beef and lamb. Like the Barbera, Carmenere is nice with earthy and mushroom flavours.
Malbec is also a Bordeaux refugee. A particularly harsh winter in the 1950s froze too many vines and many farmers gave up on the varietal. Nowadays Malbec has become the signature wine of Argentina which now produces 75 percent of the world supply. They still grow some in the south of France, as well as in Chile and in parts of western US.
Malbec is plump, full of dark fruit and plentiful in the mouth. Most of my friends who were weaned on Aussie Shiraz appreciate its full-bodied character and downright mouthwatering juiciness. I like Malbec with steak and pepper sauce, as the wine handles spice quite well, as opposed to a more tannic, bitter wine like Cabernet Sauvignon.
Michael Kloster is the senior sales executive at Magnum Wine Cellars. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org