Chow Town

Trying wines from unheard of wine regions can be a treat

Nine wines from six countries greeted 25 thirsty members of our local vintage wine group ready to drink wine from places they’ve never heard of.

The wines, for a recent tasting I hosted in the Classic Cup Cellar on the Country Club Plaza, came from all over.

The focus was on reds, but we started with two walk-in white wines: a Sauvignon Blanc from the Stellenbosch region of South Africa, and a 100 percent Albarino from our own Central Coast.

As for the reds, they were as far afield as they were varietally diverse.

There were two from France, a 100-percent Cinsault from the Costieres de Nimes and a 50/50 Syrah-Grenache from Vacqueyras. Two were from Argentina, a Malbec from La Rioja Alta and a Malbec/Bornarda/Syrah blend from Salta.

There was also Cafayate, a Chilean blend with more grapes than I can list here from the Maule Valley, which is about as far south as you can produce wines in Chile). And finally two heralded from Spain, an entry level Tempranillo from the middle of the country and a beautiful blend from the far western coast.

I don’t believe anyone other than myself had tasted any of these wines before, but that did nothing to diminish the enthusiasm — the group’s or mine.

The idea of the tasting was simple enough: experience wines from regions far afield from the commonplace. There were no Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons, no Bordeaux, red or white, and no Tuscans, “super” or otherwise.

But, there were plenty of winners.

The group loved the grapefruit notes of the Beyond Sauvignon Blanc and the silky smooth blend of the Chilensis Lazuli, which at $25 bucks a bottle puts many an American, French, and Italian wines to shame.

The clear winner of the night, however, was the final wine, the Yacochuya Malbec from north Argentina. Produced by world-renowned winemaker and wine consultant, Michel Rolland, the Yacochoya Malbec had everything-elegance, power, and tons of complexity. Think figs, blackberries, and chocolate all in one package.

Too bad it’s $65. I think I’d rather have two bottles of the Lazuli and a bottle of the Beyond Sauvignon Blanc to start.

Unheard of wine regions, I’m glad we got the chance to meet.

Dave Eckert is the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS-TV and Wealth TV for 12 seasons, or nearly 300 half-hour episodes produced on six continents. Eckert is also an avid wine collector and aficionado, having amassed a personal wine cellar of some 2,000 bottles.