The great thing about this wine gig is that everyday brings new discoveries. For example, not a day goes by where I don’t learn of a new (to me) Italian grape. I swear that they all get together over there and dream up five or six a week. Jancis Robinson’s new book on grape varietals covers 200 of them, while estimates put their total at about 1500.
Anyhow, my latest discoveries are the wines of Eastern Europe, in particular the wines from Georgia and Croatia. Where the heck have I been? I used to think that they were cheap and nasty, but thankfully, with some help from a couple of good wine people, I stand happily corrected. These wines are outstanding. The winemaking tradition goes back centuries: the same techniques used then are used now. And many of them are totally natural. Most importantly, they are superb.
So when you’re out there looking for something different and wonderful, look for wines made by folks like Bura, or Kozlovic, or Pilzota or Pheasant’s Tears. Look for wines made from grapes like Babic, or Plavac Mali (the original Zinfandel), or Rkatsetelli or Saperavi or Mtsvane. And if you’re at all into “orange” wines, run don’t walk to the Eastern European section of your favorite wine establishment. Hopefully they won’t give you a blank stare. In anticipation of you trying them, I’ll jut say “You’re welcome.”